ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Facebook has arrived, and Shelly Marsh knows it because her customers keep trying to pay for their hashbrowns, biscuits and sourdough pancakes with American Express credit cards.
“We don’t take American Express because the fees are too high,” said Marsh, co-owner of the popular diner Dad’s Place in Prineville, Ore. “But that’s what they use at Facebook. They keep asking us, ‘When are you going to take AmEx?’ We’ve been here 26 years, we’re not going to change anything.”
Prineville, on the other hand, has changed quite a bit since Facebook began building its first fully owned data center there in 2010, a project that continues to bring a steady stream of construction workers as the campus expands. This timber town with a population of 9,500, once one of the most impoverished communities in Oregon, now boasts a new hospital, an elementary school and is in the process of creating a 500-acre nature preserve. The traffic is worse and there’s a housing crunch so severe that some construction workers are staying in hotels for months at a time, but local officials say it’s a small price to pay for joining the “Silicon Forest.” Furthermore, Facebook has attracted another marquee brand to Prineville: Apple, which broke ground on its own data center in 2012.
Marsh said her restaurant has become busier since the arrival of Facebook, though not enough to merit hiring additional employees. Generally, she said, the presence of the social media giant has been a boon for both Dad’s Place and Prineville.