Lehigh Valley

Rodale employees face uncertain future after acquisition

EMMAUS, Pa. - There's a lot of uneasiness in Emmaus as word spreads that one of the borough's biggest employers, Rodale, is being sold.

"When you talk to people from outside the area, they connect Rodale with Emmaus," Emmaus Borough Manager Shane Pepe told 69 News. "The people in town know Rodale as a major member of our community."

That will soon change.

Rodale has officially been sold to Hearst, an even bigger publishing powerhouse with a striking stable of brands; Esquire, Elle and Town and Country to name just a few.

"We don't know what's going to happen," said Pepe. "We have fear of an outside company taking over a homegrown business that's been here, part of this community, for as long as most people have been alive."

In a short statement, Hearst told 69 News they "plan to retain a presence" in Emmaus.

What that means for the hundreds of people who work at Rodale is still an open question.

"It would be a devastating blow if they just shut their doors and 500 people lost their jobs," said Pepe.

The company's importance in the Lehigh Valley can be seen everywhere, and Rodale's economic imprint on Emmaus can't be understated.

"Rodale's been a huge part of this community for many years. They have a lot of property in town," said Pepe. "They're our largest taxpayer. They're our second largest employer outside of the school district."

While Pepe says there's fear about the future, he's staying measured.

"On the flip side, we don't know. They could hire 500 people and the business could grow," he said.

The deal, reportedly worth north of $200 million, is expected to officially close in early 2018 after government approvals.

Rodale directed all questions to Hearst.  

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