RALEIGH, N.C. — Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Meta, was in Raleigh on Thursday to highlight small businesses and the tech industry.
The North Carolina Chamber of Commerce helped coordinate Sandberg's visit. She spent time talking with small businesses and content creators from the Tar Heel State.
Meta is the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
"What we see coming out of this area are great opportunities for investments, great opportunities to hire incredible people as employees but also really strong opportunities to invest in creators and small businesses," Sandberg said.
"It’s not by accident that I find myself here at the Research Triangle here in North Carolina, because ... you have to go to places that matter the most. This area has been a leader in technology, you don't need me to say that, a leader in investment but also a real source of innovation around the world and for our country," she said.
Sandberg also spoke about women in the workforce, how social media has helped entrepreneurs especially during the pandemic as well as the power and innovation coming out of the Triangle.
Owners of small businesses said they take pride in representing the Triangle region.
"It’s invaluable to have someone shine a light on small businesses," Marche Robinson, a social media content creator and the owner of Isaline Beauty, said. "Especially after the pandemic, I feel like so many businesses took a hit or didn’t make it or people put their plans on the back burner."
"It doesn’t surprise me that Meta and all these other companies are noticing us because there are so many great things happening here," Lindsay Wrege, the co-founder and CEO of 321 Coffee, said. "I'm really proud to be a part of the Triangle area and really putting us on the map."
At Thursday's event, Sandberg shared results of a recent Meta survey. She says 18% of North Carolina small businesses closed in January, compared with 12% in July of last year. Sandberg also said 24% of North Carolina small businesses were laying off workers in January compared with 19% in July of last year.
Sandberg said this month that she would step down in the fall after 14 years in her executive role at Meta but would remain on the company's board.
In a few weeks, Meta is planning to host a small business workshop in the Triangle.
In 2012, Meta opened a North Carolina data center that represents a $750 million investment. Meta employs hundreds of people in the Tar Heel State.