City Manager and Chamber of Commerce not disheartened by recent Iowa City layoffs


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Katin

The ACT sign is seen outside of the ACT Headquarters on Monday, March 5, 2018. ACT offices are expected to experience upcoming lay-offs. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Even with the recent triple-digit layoffs in the Iowa City area, the Chamber of Commerce and city manager do not see a growing negative trend.

National standardized-test facilitator ACT, 500 ACT Drive, announced Feb. 28 the company would cut 100 jobs from its 1,200-member workforce, according to a press release.

“These moves are being made to ensure we have the right capabilities as we reprioritize our work,” ACT CEO Marten Roorda said in the release. “We are focusing on the outcomes most essential to fully realizing our transformation to a learning company, which means ending work that is not fully aligned to our strategic direction.”

According to the press release, Roorda said ACT is financially sound and that the staffing changes were difficult but necessary.

The press release said that ACT will provide severance packages that are “above industry norms.”

While ACT does employ people outside Iowa City, the majority of employees are in the city, according to the release. Approximately 80 percent of ACTs workforce is in Iowa City, Edward Colby, the senior director of media and public relations for ACT, said in an email to The Daily Iowan.

Earlier in February, Procter & Gamble announced that it would cut 500 jobs from its Iowa City plant, a result of the company’s decision to move the manufacturing of beauty and hair-care products to a new plant in West Virginia.

RELATED: Iowa City leaders encourage those impacted by the Procter & Gamble job cuts

City Manager Geoff Fruin said he does not think this is a sign of a negative trend. Instead, he said, he sees growth in other aspects of the businesses.

“There’s concerns about people losing their jobs,” Fruin said. “We want to be sure we do what we can as a community to help.”

Fruin said while the city will not be on the frontlines to help the displaced workers find new places of employment, officials will work with organizations including Kirkwood and the University of Iowa to help get the laid-off workers back on their feet.

President and CEO of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce Kim Casko said the changes do reflect a trend bigger than the Iowa City area.

“I think there has been a trend worldwide the past decade or so around consolidation, streamlining, mergers, etc. as businesses need to quickly adapt to emerging trends such as technology and automation to stay relevant,” Casko said in an email to the DI.

Casko also said that these recent layoffs do not cause her concern.

“We have a resilient community, we have businesses that are growing,” she said in the email to the DI.

Casko also said that just as in the case with P&G, the chamber will wait to learn more about what additional support the community can provide. She also said Iowa City has a very low unemployment rate, and many employers looking for talent.

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