Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Two Colorado Springs ministries laying off a total of 60 employees

by WAYNE HEILMAN wayneh@gazette.com - Published: September 11, 2013

Two of Colorado Springs most prominent Christian ministries - Focus on the Family and NavPress, the publishing division of the Navigators - will lay off more than 60 employees between them later this year.

The Focus cutbacks are tied to a restructuring in which the ministry is beefing up its information technology and digital operations by adding 11 positions, while cutting 40 jobs in other areas. The net loss in positions is the result of donations falling short of the ministry's budget by $3 million, and the organization's decision to outsource distribution of its radio broadcasts, Paul Batura, Focus' vice president of communications, said Wednesday.

All of the restructuring moves take effect with the beginning of the ministry's fiscal year on Oct. 1.

"These types of decisions are extremely difficult, because behind all the budgetary numbers are the names of dedicated and loyal team members. We're a very close team here at Focus," Batura said in a statement.

While annual revenue has remained stable at about $90 million for this fiscal year and the upcoming year, the Focus board agreed to a "stretch" budget of $94 million for this year to expand its outreach to families, Batura said. Since donations fell short of that goal, the ministry is reducing expenses by $3 million for the 2014 fiscal year beginning in October, resulting in a reduction of 27 jobs, he said.

Focus also is moving distribution of its radio broadcast from its in-house advertising agency, Briargate Media, to California-based Ambassador Advertising Agency, resulting in another 13 job cuts.

The ministry is expanding its digital and information-technology operations to "more effectively minister to families utilizing twenty-first century technology," while also expanding its core marriage and parenting ministry operations, Batura said.

The restructuring leaves Focus with about 640 employees, or less than half of the 1,400 it employed at its peak in 2002.

NavPress will eliminate the jobs of 22 to 24 of the publishing operation's 29 employees, with most of the reductions taking place at the end of next month.

The layoffs are the result of an alliance with Chicago-area publisher Tyndale House Publishers Inc. that NavPress announced on Wednesday, said Gary Cantwell, The Navigators' chief communications officer. While NavPress will continue to sign and develop new authors, Tyndale will take over the printing, warehousing, selling, marketing and shipping of NavPress books and other products, according to a Tyndale press release.

Tyndale will begin selling NavPress publications in November. The NavPress layoffs will continue into early 2014, but some of the affected employees could fill openings at The Navigators, which employs 436 in the Springs, Cantwell said.

"This new publishing arrangement will allow the NavPress team to focus on what we do best, which is acquiring and developing new content - the heart and the future of every publisher," Charlie Dokmo, chief of staff for The Navigators and interim CEO of NavPress, said in the release. "At the same time, this alliance will increase the opportunity for our authors to maximize their impact in the marketplace considering Tyndale's well-regarded marketing prowess, sales talent and operating platform."

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman

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