Lehigh Valley

What Hearst's Rodale layoffs mean for Emmaus community

EMMAUS, Pa. - After finalizing its purchase of Rodale this week, Hearst wasted no time making changes.

A letter, sent Thursday by Hearst to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor And Industry, announced 145 layoffs, mostly in Emmaus.

"Obviously we're disappointed. We haven't even had the chance to have any kind of communications with Hearst," said Emmaus Borough Manager Shane Pepe.

Pepe is worried about how the layoffs will affect people in his community. 

"We all know someone that worked at Rodale or works at Rodale," said Pepe. "We're disappointed because it affects families. It affects the community. But it affects each and every person and their families that worked at Rodale."

From an economic perspective, he sees more than jobs leaving town.

"Even if they don't live in the borough, they work in the borough. They shop in the borough. They eat in the borough," Pepe told WFMZ. 

Nevertheless, changes are coming.

The media giant Hearst, with major stake in A&E and ESPN, plus well known magazines of its own like Elle and Car and Driver is reorganizing.

Rodale Books has been sold to Penguin Random House. 

There will be a new "Hearst Magazines Enthusiast Group", encompassing Bicycling and Runner's World and based in the Lehigh Valley.

Plus, Valley native and Moravian graduate David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men's Health from 2000-2012, has been brought back as interim editorial director of that magazine.

Whether those changes will keep jobs in Emmaus isn't clear. 

"All we keep hearing is that they want some kind of Lehigh Valley presence. But not necessarily in the borough of Emmaus," said Pepe.  

Then there's Rodale's substantial real estate.

"We've heard from a couple realtors, we've heard from a couple prominent businesspeople in the borough that there's potentially somebody major trying to negotiate a deal for the building on 10th Street," he told WFMZ. 

If it happens, it could mean new jobs moving in. But like everything else, details are vague.
  
"The unknown is what's really the kind of the thing that concerns us the most at this point," he said.


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