It happened so fast: One minute a story breaks across the Triad media about the possible renaming of Piedmont Triad International Airport. Within a few hours, the PTI Airport Authority announced a new name: Central North Carolina International Airport — CNCIA on second reference, we suppose. And we’re none too happy about it.

First off — and we probably speak for Triad Stage, Triad Business Journal, the Piedmont Triad Partnership here — we need to make sure everybody is still doing the whole “Triad” thing, and not just because it’s in our names.

True, not that much connective tissue has developed between Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point over the years. There are reasons for that too lengthy to go into here. But the fact is that American cities of 300,000 don’t even move the needle, statistically speaking; they’re basically invisible. Now an urban regionlike the Triad, with a population of 1.6 million… now that’s a market, the 33rd largest in the country. And the people studying it — mostly marketing companies, behaviorists and others interested in large groups of humans — don’t care if people on the west side of the combined statistical area never go to the east side of it. To them, it doesn’t matter what we think. Like it or not, we are the Piedmont Triad, not to be confused with the Asian criminal enterprise of a similar name.[pullquote]We need to make sure everybody is still doing the whole “Triad” thing, and not just because it’s in our name[/pullquote]

Marketing was the primary reason given for the name change — people just didn’t know what the Piedmont Triad was, proponents argued. Central North Carolina is more geographically accurate, they said. But geez, North Carolina is 500 miles wide. North Carolina Central University is in Durham. Central Carolina Community College is in Sanford, between Greensboro and Fayetteville. The US District Court’s Middle District of North Carolina includes Durham and Orange counties in the east, Surry and Cabarrus in the west and Scotland in the south. If anything, the new name is more geographically vague than its predecessor. And it would seem that if we, as a region, want people to know what we call ourselves, a good way to teach them is to show it to them as soon as they land at the airport.

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