NEWS- In-flight: US Airways eyes TJ country

Charlottesville is no stranger to good press: the New York Times, Washington Post, and Southern Living have all extolled the area's virtues.

An upcoming May 22-plus-page profile in US Airways Magazine has business leaders touting its "outstanding advertising exposure," while mom-and-pop stores try to decide whether to cough up for a full-page ad.

Sage Moon Gallery owner Morgan Mackenzie-Perkins considered purchasing an ad, for which the open rate is $24,520. A special regional rate for profiles is cheaper– about $15,000– with 1/6 page selling for $3,500 instead of the usual $6,860. "I still think that's a lot," says Mackenzie-Perkins, who pays $600 for her 1/4 page ads in national art magazines.

But those publications are unlikely to have the 2.2-million circulation that US Airways Magazine boasts. And things are looking up for the airline after filing twice for bankruptcy protection. After merging with America West in September, US Airways lost less money than anticipated last quarter.

Publishers of the magazine, formerly called Attaché, contacted the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development last fall about the possibility of a story, says executive director Bob De Mauri.

The Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau teamed up with the Partnership to pitch the area to the magazine– and to pitch the magazine to local businesses.

"This unparalleled exposure is a perfect chance to tell a global audience how our rich history, exciting tourist attractions, and impressive business climate merge with livable communities, modern technologies, and economic prosperity to create an exceptional and dynamic location," says a letter signed by the heads of the three organizations.

In other words, "Charlottesville is not just UVA and great restaurants," says Tim Hulbert, Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. "They'll look at companies here doing well. It'll be more than recreation."

"I think this is a really interesting time for any cover story featuring the founding fathers," says US Airways Magazine editor Susan Weissman. She mentions Ben Franklin's 300th birthday celebration in Philadelphia and the upcoming 400th birthday of Jamestown in 2007.

Weissman will use local writers or those who've lived here to write "Charlottesville– Jefferson's Virginia."

In talking to people here, she says she finds "They're really mindful of living in a museum of sorts." People talk about Jefferson "like he lives next door," she's noticed.

US Airways Magazine ad reps did not return phone calls from the Hook, so it's hard to say just how many local businesses besides the hospitality industry will be buying pricey ads in the international, business-traveler-rich publication.

"If you think about how many people it reaches, it's probably a good deal– but not for mom and pops," says Mackenzie-Perkins.

Read about your hometown while you ride the big silver bird.