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Creston Candy Maker’s Sweet Request: ‘We Need Workers’

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CRESTON, Iowa -- After 30 years, one Creston company has figured out a lot in the candy business. Ferrara Candy Company, which is under its seventh owner during its time in Creston, produces 80 million pounds of gummy sweetness a year. Do the math: that's nearly 30 pounds for each Iowans' annual sugar high.

Company officials say what they struggle with is workers. Creston has a population of 7,834 people, according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau. Without a large population base from which to draw and a regional unemployment rate that's near 3 percent, Ferrara finds it difficult to maintain its 330-person workforce.

Governor Terry Branstad toured the facility Tuesday and talked with company leaders. He said the company's issues aren't unique right now. Branstad said, "It's a problem throughout the state and throughout the country, just finding the right skills for the jobs that are available."

The company has found some help by connecting with nearby Southwestern Community College with an apprenticeship program. It's a start but the company hopes awareness of the skilled jobs it seeks will also help its desired workforce.