Around the region: Fall colors expected to bring many visitors to WNC

Published 7:55 am Friday, October 14, 2011

Ideal weather conditions earlier this year are expected to produce exceptional leaf colors this fall and attract many visitors to Western North Carolina, according to regional foliage forecasters.
Appalachian State University professor Howard Neufeld estimates the region could enjoy a total economic impact of nearly $1 billion from visitors this fall. He estimates a family of four will spend on average $260 for two nights in a hotel, $60 for gas and $30 per person for food each day for a total of $560.
Neufeld said there are no figures on exactly how many people visit the region for the fall leaf viewing season and he suggests a study be done to provide accurate data. Neufeld estimates Western North Carolina will see as many visitors as New Hampshire and Maine, which had about 16 million fall visitors last year.
Tourism officials in WNC report strong hotel bookings for the rest of the fall season and many inquiries from people looking to travel to the area in the coming weeks.
Higher elevations in WNC are coming into the peak time this week for fall colors. Mid-elevations are expected to reach peak time during the third week of October, while other areas will follow shortly around the end of the month.
Kathy Mathews, a fall foliage forecaster at Western Carolina University, said this year’s leaf color will be boosted by slightly below normal rainfall in the spring and summer and a break from hot temperatures in August.
Carlton Burke, director of Carolina Mountain Naturalist, agrees this year’s spring and summer weather will produce an above-average year for fall colors.
“This year it hasn’t been overly wet or overly dry, so it will be a good leaf-turning season,” she said. “Just sit back and enjoy it.”
– source:, 9/7/11, 10/4/11
Facebook’s expansion of its Rutherford County data center is an example of technology industry growth that has made North Carolina the 16th largest “Cyberstate” in the country, according to a TechAmerica Foundation report.
The report shows North Carolina is particularly strong for jobs in computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing, ranking fourth in the nation in that category.
Although North Carolina lost 3,100 high-tech industry jobs last year, the loss was half what the state saw in 2009, indicating an improving trend for the industry.  Overall, the state had nearly 146,000 high-tech jobs with a total payroll of nearly $12 billion last year, according to Tech-America Foundation.
Facebook announced plans this month to begin construction on a second data center building in Rutherford County.
The company is one of several that have chosen North Carolina for a data center. Google has a data center in Lenior and Apple has one near Maiden. Time Warner Cable announced plans for a data center in Charlotte and EMC has developed one in Durham.
Companies have cited the state’s low-cost electricity, access to water for cooling and state building incentives as reason to come to the Tar Heel state.
– source: N.C. Department of Commerce, 10/6/11
Seven weeks after Hurricane Irene swept over eastern North Carolina, causing widespread flooding, the N.C. Department of Transportation has reopened N.C. 12.
Heavy flooding resulted in three breaches along the highway between Oregon Inlet and Rodanthe. DOT crews worked around the clock to build a temporary bridge and repair the highway.
N.C. Governor Bev Perdue said she directed DOT to “get the road open as soon as possible since the tourism revenue from the Outer Banks is critical to the economic engine of North Carolina.”
– source: N.C. Governor’s Office
Charlotte-area home sales rose 26 percent over the previous year in September, according to figures from the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association. The association also reports there were 1,913 pending sales contracts last month, up 14.3 percent compared to last September and 15.5 percent compared to this August.
However, sales prices in the 10-county area remained soft, with the average sales price in September down 6.5 percent from September of 2010.
– source: Charlotte Business Journal, 10/10/11
Among the 100 largest metro areas in the country, Raleigh ranked 56th and Charlotte was 64th for job growth in August, based on U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.
Employment was up 0.5 percent in Charlotte, rising from 802,600 jobs in August of last year to 806,700 jobs this August. In Raleigh, employment grew 0.7 percent, rising to 503,100 jobs in the metro area. Greensboro ranked 81st with a 2.7 percent loss in employment, falling to 339,000 jobs.
Ogden, Utah, led with the biggest percentage increase at 3.7 percent in August, while Houston had the biggest raw-number gain, adding 65,600 jobs in the past year.
Atlanta had the largest net loss in employment, losing 30,800 jobs.
– source:
Honda Aircraft plans to invest $20 million and create 419 jobs when it expands its facilities at the Piedmont Triad International Airport.
The company, a subsidiary of American Honda Motors Inc. and the manufacturer of the new HondaJet, plans to offer an average wage of $53,418, plus benefits, for the new jobs, well above the average annual wage of $39,520 in Guilford County.
Honda Aircraft chose the Greensboro area in 2007 for its headquarters, research and development center and assembly facility.
A grant from the One NC Fund for economic development will help facilitate the expansion.
– source: N.C. Department of Commerce
Caterpillar held a grand opening last week for a plant expansion that created 325 new jobs in Sanford. The new 270,000-square-foot facility in Sanford, along with a new facility under construction in Winston Salem, will add more than 700 jobs to Caterpillar’s workforce in North Carolina over the next five years.
The company said the new facilities will help it meet global demand for its construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines.
– source:, 10/10/11
Continental Tire North America has announced plans for a new $500 million plant in Sumter County, S.C., that will employ about 1,700 people when it begins operations in 2017.
The North American subsidiary of Continental Corp. in Germany said the new plant will increase production capacity for passenger and light truck tires to meet growing demand in the United States and the Americas.
Continental said it also plans to add 80 jobs at its North American tire headquarters in Fort Mill, S.C., which currently employs 375 people.
– sources:, 10/6/11;, 10/6/11
Adex Machining Technologies of Greenville was awarded a multiyear contract to produce components for the Boeing 747 and 777 commercial passenger jets.
Adex, one of three companies selected for Boeing’s Mentorship Program after a thorough evaluation process to find qualified companies in South Carolina, will produce titanium and alloy parts structures for aircraft.
Adex co-owner Jason Premo said, “The Boeing philosophy of partnering with suppliers is a role model not just for the aerospace industry, but for any company looking for a supply-chain advantage in a globally competitive market.”
Premo and co-owner Sean Witty rapidly built their company after purchasing a small tool and die shop in 2007 and implementing a modernization program during the height of the recession. The company, located on Feaster Road in Greenville, was recently named one the Fastest Growing Companies for two consecutive years by “INC” magazine.
– source:, 10/7/11
North Carolinians prefer eastern N.C. barbecue over the western style by a wide margin, based on a recent survey. More than 42 percent said they prefer eastern-style barbecue, while 26 percent preferred western style in the survey of 760 North Carolina voters.
The poll also asked the voters whether they agree with a comment by Texas Gov. Rick Perry in 1992 that he had tasted road kill that was better than eastern North Carolina barbeque. About 75 percent of the Tar Heel voters polled said they disagree with that statement and 40 percent said they are less likely to vote for him because of his statement.
The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling between Sept. 30 and Oct. 3.
– source:, 10-7-11
Katie Proctor of Hendersonville, N.C., defeated a seven-day champion on “Jeopardy!” when she made her debut on the show, which aired Wednesday night, Oct. 12. Her victory earned her $26,401.
Proctor, 35, said she has been a longtime fan of the show. She defeated champion Joon Pahk after taking a lead into the final question of Wednesday show and then answering the question correctly.
After being prohibited from revealing results of the previously recorded show, Proctor watched Wednesday’s episode with her family in Hendersonville. She said her 2-year-old daughter  didn’t understand what was taking place, and her 5-year-old daughter thought the woman on TV was someone with the same name who just happened to look like her mom.
– source:, 10/13/11)

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