Several months ago, this paper reported that the Asheville Regional Airport, seeking to learn more about its customers’ flying and buying habits, asked local businesses to submit their 1998 corporate travel records for evaluation. Now, the results are in: Thirty-six local companies submitted more than 10,000 records, detailing when and how their employees traveled. While this represents only a small percentage of the total corporate travel from the region, an Asheville Airport Authority newsletter explains, the sample size is large enough to use as a signifier about the region’s travel habits.

The analysis, performed by the Keihl Hendrickson Group, revealed the following facts:

• Ninety percent of local business travelers use the Asheville airport, although 40 percent of leisure travelers use other nearby airports;

• Forty percent of the outbound travel went to 10 destinations; two of these were separate airports in New York City;

• Seven percent of the travel is headed for international destinations; Europe is the most popular, followed by Canada, Mexico and Latin America.

• Business travel is primarily divided between US Airways, (which carried just over half the outbound business passengers) and Delta (which held the lead for inbound traffic).

All in all, the report concluded that Asheville’s airport is healthy, very busy, and features competitive pricing. Not bad for a little facility with some serious local competition.

To learn more about the Asheville airport’s corporate-air-travel analysis, call Kathryn Solee at 684-2226, ext. 152.

Trail of history

Heritage tourism — which focuses on indigenous history and culture, instead of just generic activities — is pretty big, these days. And one such local effort, the Blue Ridge Heritage Initiative, recently snared an $80,000 grant from the N.C. Arts Council, to help develop and distribute marketing materials.

The project entails creating the Blue Ridge Heritage Trail, with particular emphasis on traditional music and Cherokee culture. Such efforts can support both economic development and cultural conservation. The grant will be used primarily in the design, printing and distribution of promotional and marketing materials for various WNC trails.

Interest in the Blue Ridge Heritage Trail has gone beyond the local level, however; the project has been designated the state’s official Millennium Legacy Trail by the U.S. Department of Transportation. All 50 states will eventually have such trails, chosen by Hillary Rodham Clinton, to reflect each state’s uniqueness and celebrate our nation’s history and collective culture. “We are designating 50 Millennium Legacy Trails that reflect the unique spirit of their states and the collective history of our nation,” Ms. Clinton said in a recent telephone interview????. “Each of them stitches a design in our landscape, and together [they] help to create a picture of America.”

To learn more about the Blue Ridge Heritage Trail, call the N.C. Arts Council at (919) 733-2111.

Gold stars

For working parents with young children in day care, it’s hard not to worry about the quality of care they’re receiving. But how can you know? For the most part, parents have had to rely on word of mouth or general reputation to find a caregiver they can trust. But now, the state Division of Child Development has begun issuing rated licenses to child-care centers across the state, making it much easier to assess how well they’re doing.

By Sept. 1, 2000, all child-care centers in the state must have at least one star, meaning that they’ve met the basic licensing requirements.

Centers aiming higher may choose to be held to more rigorous standards. A five-point rating system will be applied in each of three areas: program standards, staff education and compliance history. Among the first eight centers in the state to be rated was Buncombe County’s Community Childcare Center, which received four stars.

“When you go into a restaurant, you know how well that facility is doing in meeting health-care standards, because we have a rating system,” said Division of Child Development Director Stephanie Fanjul. “Parents deserve a similar rating system for child-care centers. Thanks to the new system, a parent can get a good picture of the kind of quality care her child will receive. This is going to make things a whole lot easier for consumers facing what could well be one of the most important decisions they make for their families.”

For more info about the new rated licenses, call Debbie Crane at (919) 733-9190.

School spirit

UNCA has increasingly drawn national attention in recent years. And, judging by the latest figures on admissions, that trend is continuing. As of mid-November, the Admissions Office had seen a sharp increase in freshman applications from across the state, and out-of-state applications are up by 40 percent, compared to last year. Minority-student applications were up 33 percent.

The school’s high standards and low in-state tuition and fees haven’t hurt, of course; but newly expanded recruitment and marketing efforts are also helping spread the word. UNCA has increased its newspaper and magazine advertising and, starting this week, the school will even begin running ads at a local multiplex theater.

“We’re also continuing our efforts to increase the diversity of our student body,” explains Philip Weast, UNCA’s assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management. “We’ve become more aggressive in recruiting in Asheville, Charlotte and other areas with minority communities. We are continuing to expand our mentoring and tutoring programs in the Asheville City Schools, and we’ve increased scholarship opportunities.”

Though the out-of-state applications are pouring in, the state limits the number of new, nonresident freshmen to 18 percent of the entering class (which averages about 470 students).

To learn more about UNCA and its enrollment policies, call 251-6526.

— chillingly compiled by Paul Schattel

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