"Our students, our bright scientists that are graduating from high school have had to leave the state to get an education in petroleum geology ... or petroleum engineering," Helms said. "We're now going to be able to give them the very best education in those fields ... and then turn around and employ them in this growing industry."

Hamm said Continental likes to hire locally.

"Students like being home. They like having jobs at home," he said.

___

Associated Press writer Dale Wetzel contributed from Bismarck, N.D.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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