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PHOENIX -- A better and diversified economy will lead more Arizona college graduates to stay in the state, the former president of Arizona State University said.

"The more we can diversify and strengthen the economy, the more it will be attractive for them to not only stay for here for their first job, but to stay here for their careers," said Dr. Lattie Coor, who is also the chairman and CEO for the Center for the Future of Arizona.

Citing a Gallup poll, Coor said that all Arizonans want more diverse options, but diversity would be the key to opening up jobs for young graduates who want more jobs.

"They really would like to see greater diversity in the job opportunities that are here," he said. "Diversity including more good-paying jobs, diversity in terms of things that not only will keep our young people here after they graduate from college but provide opportunities to them to go on up the ladder where they are, but diversity in terms of the array of skills and activities that the jobs themselves represent."

Currently, Coor said many students who graduate from an Arizona school are "more than pleased" to take their first job in the state. As an example, Coor cited Intel, which hires more graduates from ASU than any other school.

When it comes to growing the economy, Coor said that Arizona has many tools in place -- such as bioscience, health care and aerospace -- that will help the state recover. As the economy improves, more students will be needed to fill those jobs, creating a cycle that hires Arizona graduates gives them the opportunities the need and will raise the education levels of those graduates.

"A stronger economy will pay the bills, a strong economy will build the tax base, a stronger economy will allow us to invest in education at a level that makes us truly competitive with other parts of the nation and the world and it all, in a sense, reinforces one another as it goes forward."

Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes, Making Sense of the Madness, Mon-Fri., 9a-12p on 92.3 KTAR

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