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Union County maintains low unemployment

Published: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 11:13 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 11:31 a.m. CDT

The state of Iowa came in below the nation’s average for unemployment and Union County is keeping pace with a majority of Iowa’s 99 counties.

In February, the nation averaged a 6.7 percent unemployment rate. Iowa came in at 4.4 percent.

A majority of Iowa’s counties range from 4.1 to 6 percent unemployment based on February’s results. Chamber of Commerce Director Ellen Gerharz said Union County was up a little, coming in at 5.6 percent.

“It reflects what has been happening at Gits and the transition with seasonal employment,” Gerharz said.

But overall, Union County is seeing a large flux of jobs in the area that need to be filled. Several area companies are planning additions and will need to hire additional staff to accommodate for the increases in capacity.

“Anything we can do to bring jobs into this area that keeps people from leaving to go to Des Moines only adds to our quality of life,” Gerharz said. “Plus, it brings people into the community to buy homes, buy goods and provide services.”

Prairie View

Construction is complete and residents are expected within the next month for the new memory care unit at Prairie View.

Administrator Amy Edmonson-Bonebrake said the addition will more than double their required nursing staff that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The memory care unit requires a higher staffing rotation than our general assisted living,” Edmonson-Bonebrake said.

When the memory care unit is full — with 12 total residents — Prairie View will have 10-15 additional staff to plug into the rotation.

Edmonson-Bonebrake said Prairie View has already added a supervisor position and a part-time registered nurse to accommodate the needs of their residents.

Creston Nursing and Rehab

Today is the groundbreaking ceremony for a $2.3 million building expansion project at Creston Nursing and Rehab Center.

Administrator Lori Harvey said this new addition will offer private rooms and a new therapy gym. The addition includes a new entrance and parking lot for outpatient clients for easier access.

“We’ve always offered professional outpatient therapy services at Creston Nursing and Rehab Center,” Harvey said. “We recognized a need to enhance and expand our capabilities to offer both outpatient and short-term inpatient therapy services in this area.”

The addition is expected to be completed in the next five months. At capacity, the rehabilitation wing will add the need of an additional full-time nurse, two therapists, a certified nursing assistant and cleaning staff.

“People who use this therapy service could for example be surgery patients who are between their initial post-surgical hospital stay and being fully independent at home and in need of assistance with meals and mobility until they are fully functional,” Harvey said.

Other businesses

Gerharz said several other businesses in Union County are also expanding and increasing the employment opportunities.

CHS Inc. is expanding their flour mill and Gerharz said is looking to increase employment steadily over the next three years.

Gerharz said CHS has spent millions of dollars on expansion and renovation, including their elevators in uptown Creston.

She added that Fansteel/Wellman Dynamics, Ferrara Candy Company and Bunn-O-Matic Corporation are continuing to grow or at least hold steady.

“Those jobs are all paying above minimum wage, too,” Gerharz said.

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