Center for the Future of Arizona Report

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The Center for the Future of Arizona has a new report: “Vision 2025: Arizona Comes of Age.” The report looks at what it will take to have Arizona emerge as a competitive player among the states by 2025. Lattie Coor, chairman and CEO of the center, will tell us more about the report.

TED SIMONS: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," we'll discuss a new report on how Arizona can become a fully vital and competitive player on the national stage. And a journalism professor writes a remarkable memoir about his own considerable challenges and those of his down syndrome son. That's next on "Arizona Horizon."

VIDEO: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

TED SIMONS: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The center for the future of Arizona is out with a new report titled "vision 2025: Arizona comes of age." the report looks at what's needed in the next 10 years for Arizona to become a vital and competitive national player. Lattie Coor is the center's chairman and CEO. He joins us now. Good to see you again.

LATTIE COOR: Good to see you, Ted.

TED SIMONS: Okay, 2025, Arizona comes of age, are we ready to become a fully vital and competitive player?

LATTIE COOR: We have all of the elements. That is what caused us to choose this title. We have been working on seeing how we position our education, our infrastructure, all of the things that we have, and as we step back, looked at what citizens said they want for the future, looked at our assets, we can put it together to make it happen. The question is how do we do it, who does it, and how do we get everybody engaged in making it happen? So, it's both an observation, but an aspiration. And we have every confidence if all of us will join in this endeavor, we can make it happen.

TED SIMONS: Let me ask you. Who does it? How do we do it?

LATTIE COOR: I think it begins with an understanding if you don't pause at long range goals, you are not going to make them happen. Thanks to the Arizona gallop poll we know what citizens want for the long range. There they are clearly. Graduate our students from high school, college and career ready, keep increasing the education level of the state. That's one of the eight. Once we have that clear understanding, the trick is to make sure that leadership around the state and citizens around the state understand them, know what they mean, how they go about carrying them out, and then get us all working in the same direction.

TED SIMONS: You mentioned leaders. Do leaders understand what this report talks about and is there the political will to follow some of these suggestions?

LATTIE COOR: I have high confidence that a number of our leaders understand that. The governor spoke at the release of this report just a week ago. And strongly endorsed the elements that are there. We see a number of people who really say this is the right thing to do. Do we have the will to make it happen? That remains to be seen. We have not been doing so well the last few years.

TED SIMONS: Indeed. What can be done to find that political will?

LATTIE COOR: Well, let's start with education. Because in this report, we brought our centers worked together for not only the education, the Arizona we want, but the education we need. The two go together. So, more we increase education in the state, the more people who have a strong, competitive ability to work in the economy, the more successful we're going to be. Everybody has a stake in that. So, we start by saying here is the goal. But everyone of you has to make sure at your local school level, that you understand what its finances are. You understand how well it's doing or not doing. And you do something about it. You not only get involved with your school in your own community, but you make sure that you get registered and vote. We had the lowest turnout in 50 years in the last primary. You know that. You have spoken about it here. We have got to do something about that. And it wouldn't take an awful lot. A thousand additional people in any legislative district in the state will begin to make a difference.

TED SIMONS: You mentioned, again, title "Arizona comes to age" the idea of what Arizona wants to be, what Arizonans want Arizona to be, when there is such a consistent lack of involvement, a lack of a feeling of connection out there. Does that become Arizona's M.O.? People can say all they want, but when they're acting a certain way, is that who we are?

LATTIE COOR: It is an interesting thing that we have learned that since statehood, through this current year, two-thirds of the Arizonans who live here at any time over that 100 plus years came from elsewhere. They chose to come here, but they came from elsewhere. And I know personally, having grown up here, that they were much more engaged even though two-thirds of them came from elsewhere than they are today. So, it can happen. It did happen in an earlier era. We just have to find a way to make it happen now. And we think that the best way to make it happen is for people to understand they have a stake in making these goals a reality.

TED SIMONS: How do you do that? How do you make people understand that this -- this makes a difference. A lot of folks, they come out here to retire. They paid their taxes back in Michigan -- they don't want to be paying anymore of that stuff. They think they have already done their civic duty back east or Texas or California, wherever they came from. How do you get past that?

LATTIE COOR: That's 16% of the population. The other 84% are looking to make sure that they have a good, strong economy. That there are jobs there. That their children are educated properly so that they can have those jobs. We have to find a way, community by community, to get them to understand they can play that role. And as they play that role, it will lift the entire process.

TED SIMONS: I know the report mentioned university, bioscience corridor among the positives, among the things that you think can grow and can develop.

LATTIE COOR: That's all happened within the last decade. We weren't the major player there. Look at what has happened there. There are a number of things that have happened that prove we can do it. Now the objective is to make sure that we make -- that we get direct and continuing steps in the future.

TED SIMONS: As far as the education challenge, I know that you wrote as well not enough well-educated folks are out there for the work force. I mean, that is just a basic there, isn't it?

LATTIE COOR: Absolutely a basic. And that is why among the programs we at the center have been undertaking is to get students targeted much more effectively for entry into college, entry into programs that lead to technical education where they can be eligible to enter the work force. In other words, step by step by step to get an increasing number of people ready to do that.

TED SIMONS: You know we have done a number of shows on just, you know, Arizona's future here, among those shows the idea of rebranding Arizona, just getting out there with a different message or different look. Do you think that is a good idea?

LATTIE COOR: I think it is time to retrieve our brand. We have been a proud state for years. We knew who we were. We were able to pull together during tough times, from a depression, all of the activity that came with the second world war, we made great strides. That's a brand that many of us know characterizes this state and has for years. We need to frame it and make sure that everybody understands it in this era, and we think it can be done.

TED SIMONS: A better way to make everyone understand it is how it was lost in the first place.

LATTIE COOR: I think we have grown very rapidly. A number of factors that of kind. We were moving along in a fairly constructive direction. Look at the part of the world I know best. Look at our universities. These universities are among the best in the nation, in the world. And then when the economy took a bounce, we somehow lost our grip in a way. So, I think if we simply will recognize that it has been done in the past, and it can be done in the future. We -- we will accomplish it.

TED SIMONS: Very good. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

LATTIE COOR: My pleasure, Ted, as always.

Lattie Coor: Chairman and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona

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