An Illinois-based company that owns a candy plant in southwest Iowa plans to close the facility, putting more than 250 employees out of work.

Production at the Ferrara Candy Company facility in Creston will end in mid-December. The plant has been making Trolli brand Gummi Bears and other candy for more than 30 years. According to a statement from the company, the “difficult decision” to close the Creston plant came after a “comprehensive review” of Ferrara operations. Executives say the Illinois company plans to focus on its “most efficient assets” and invest in “state of the art facilities.”

The 256 workers at the Creston plant will be offered “severance and transition assistance,” according to a company statement.

In 2015, then-Governor Terry Branstad toured the plant in Creston. Company officials said during that visit two years ago that their number one obstacle was finding enough workers in the Creston area.

A full statement released today by Ferrara is below:

“Over the past several years, Ferrara Candy has made significant investments in building a state-of-the-art manufacturing network to improve our production capabilities and to continue efficiently delivering our iconic, well-loved snacks and confections to consumers. In a dynamic industry that is constantly evolving, and as the Company continues to grow and capture market share, it is critical that we leverage our most efficient assets and invest in those state-of-the-art facilities where we have a competitive advantage and scale. As part of these efforts, and following a comprehensive review of our manufacturing operations, Ferrara Candy has made the difficult decision to close its facility in Creston, Iowa. Creston operations will continue until mid-December, at which point it will cease manufacturing and begin the process of winding down. All ongoing items at Creston will be absorbed within Ferrara’s supply network.
“Decisions that affect people are never easy and this was not one that was taken lightly. Ferrara Candy has been a proud part of the Creston community for more than 30 years. We greatly value the dedication and hard work of all our employees and are dedicated to treating our team members with dignity and respect. We are committed to offering severance and transition assistance for our affected Creston employees and we will be meeting with all representatives involved in the process, including state agencies, to accomplish that goal.”

Iowa Workforce Development director Beth Townsend released the following statement:

“Our number one priority is making sure the workers affected by this transition have the access to the information and resources they need to make informed decisions about the way forward.

“Toward that end, Rapid Response coordination began as soon as we received the WARN notification, which was published online earlier this afternoon:

“Our Statewide Rapid Response coordinator, Kristi Judkins has been in contact with the company and meetings are being scheduled with its leadership and local IowaWORKS representatives, as well as other vested community leaders, to begin the deployment of resources and services to the impacted workforce.

“Additionally, calls with local IowaWORKS, community college and economic development representatives are occuring this afternoon to align resources and ensure a coordinated response to address the needs of the affected workers and assist the company as they deal with the transition.

“Affected workers are encouraged to visit the IowaWORKS office in Creston at 214 North Elm Street or call 641-782-2119.”