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Focus laying off 75 employees

By: MARK BARNA
September 2, 2009
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Focus on the Family announced a reorganization Wednesday that will eliminate 75 jobs — an 8 percent reduction in a workforce that already has been cut twice since September 2008.

The Colorado Springs-based ministry is shutting down the creative division of its advertising department, accounting for 30 of the layoffs. The others are from various departments throughout the ministry, including Love Won Out, a program aimed at homosexuals that Focus is handing over to an organization in Florida.

In 2002, Focus’ employment reached a high of about 1,400. A year ago, it was down to about 1,155. The cuts announced Wednesday, coupled with 57 vacant positions that won't be filled and two rounds of layoffs since 2008, bring the local workforce to 860.

“These are tough economic times,” Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger said. “The challenges have made us take a hard look at what we do structurally and strategically so we can accomplish our mission more efficiently.”

Most workers affected will be paid through Sept. 18, though not all will be expected to report to work, Schneeberger said.

Even though Focus cut its budget from $160 million in fiscal 2008 to $138 million in fiscal 2009, it still suffered a $6 million shortfall. Schneeberger said the deficit largely was due to the loss of donations from small- to medium-sized businesses. Donations from families has remained steady, he said.

The latest job cuts are part of a series of moves by Focus to reorganize its operations in response to a drop in donations during the recession. Focus eliminated 46 positions a year ago and 202 in November. The organization also axed the print editions of four of its eight magazines.

With part of its in-house advertising operations gone, Focus will outsource more work to a group of people who once worked for a Phoenix-based agency that redesigned the Focus logo in 2008.

Despite the layoffs and reorganization, Schneeberger said Wednesday he's optimistic about Focus' future, noting that it reached 95 percent of its 2009 fiscal budget even in a biting recession.

“But at the same time, this is not the happiest day,” he said.

“It’s never easy to say goodbye.”

Call Barna at 636-0367

 

 

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