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Everybody else is sending letters to Stephen Wolf, chairman of United Airlines' parent UAL Corp., so I'm joining the bandwagon.

Dear Mr. Wolf:Your staff in Chicago is considering 70-plus sites to locate a huge maintenance facility somewhere in the East. Civic leaders and Piedmont Triad International Airport are dangling a $47 million package that I and other taxpayers have to back up.

But we all know CEOs inevitably make such decisions for reasons that may have nothing to do with dollars and cents. And smart CEOs like yourself know that employees happy with their living conditions are going to be more productive workers.

Here are 10 non-money reasons that a former Chicagoan thinks your United colleagues will love it if you are wise enough to select the Triad:

1) Newcomers. The Triad knows how to welcome people to town. Greensboro's Newcomers Club is a well-oiled machine that makes newcomers feel at home. The group's citywide annual luncheon last week attracted 300 women. Churches and temples knock themselves out seeking new members. Informally, neighbors still act neighborly here.

2) Barbecue. We don't have Chicago-quality pizza or ribs. But Yankees quickly learn that barbecue from Stamey's or a dozen other area restaurants is a great alternative.

3) Common sense. Ratings show that given the choice of watching Andy Griffith, Phil Donahue or A Current Affair, significantly more Triad residents pick Andy.

4) Soccer and golf. Those two sports, accessible to almost any age, are going to grow like wildfire in the '90s. The Triad is a mecca for both. Soccer is hot stuff here, from tiny tots through the collegiate level, led by one of the nation's finest coaches, Michael Parker of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. As for golf, try to find a finer public golf complex than Bryan Park. Throw in the K Mart Greater Greensboro Open. And we're only an hour from Pinehurst.

5) Richard Petty and Dean Smith. Chicago has Michael Jordan. Los Angeles has Wayne Gretzky. We've got two living legends who are role models for anyone who desires excellence. (A confession: Dean doesn't exactly live in the Triad, but he's on TV almost every night anyhow.)

6) Schooling. None of the Triad's public schools are as good as those in Chicago's wealthy north suburbs. None are as bad as Chicago's inner city schools. But with our state's most powerful business leaders screaming for improvements, one can expect to see things happen. Also, the Triad is blessed with enough colleges and universities to provide maximum educational opportunities to each of your employees. Not many areas can make that claim.

7) Pluralism. The Triad is much like Chicago in terms of race relations. We are far too segregated and we routinely have racial flareups that bring out the worst in people. But that pluralism is going to turn into a great advantage as we inevitably learn to appreciate our diversity and work together.

8) Stanley Frank. He's been on the airport authority since John F. Kennedy was president and he acts like he owns the airport, where your people will work. That ticks off a lot of people. But no one loves this area more than he does and few devote as much energy to helping it progress.

9) Cable television. If anyone misses Chicago too much, they can flip on WGN at 10 p.m. every night to catch up on the latest crimes, strikes, snowstorms and Cub trades. A few months after moving, they'll be glad that they are watching WGN from afar.

10) Nature. An hour out of town, one can be sitting atop the cliff at Hanging Rock State Park, letting one's mind soar, coming as close as most of us ever get to flying. Two hours out, one can be walking alone through a beautiful Appalachian forest. One can't quantify that fringe benefit.

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