Jobs leaving Marengo as Quad/Graphics closes

138 jobs lost with closure

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MARENGO — March 11 is the final day for Quad/Graphics in Marengo, taking with it 138 jobs.

The Wisconsin-based printing company had announced the closure back in January.

"I've talked to a few people down there," said Mike Curry, who serves on Marengo's city council and is the owner of Phat Daddy's restaurant in downtown Marengo.  "Some have found jobs. A lot haven't."

Marengo is the seat of Iowa County, with about 2,500 residents.  The largest employers in town are Marengo Memorial Hospital and the Iowa Valley Community School District.

Marengo is about a half-hour west of Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids is about 40 miles to the northeast.

"The proximity of these two cities, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, cannot be understated as far as finding opportunities for this work force," said Craig Hamilton, Iowa County Economic Development Commission director.  "The fact that it's a regional economy is important.  Not everybody who lives in Marengo works in Marengo."

Hamilton said other opportunities for workers with similar skills may be found at Whirlpool-owned Amana Appliances in nearby Amana or Williamsburg-based Kinze Manufacturing.

In 2012, Grundy Center, 70 miles to the north of Marengo, endured major job losses as Bacon Veneer, a veneer manufacturing facility, announced about 50 jobs cuts.  Mayor Brian Buhrow said Bacon Veneer now employs more than 20 people, far less than its peak.

"Any time we lose employment or employers in a community, it's detrimental," said Buhrow.  "We want to work as quickly as possible to get those people to steady their lives and get them employed."

Grundy Center also has a major city 30 miles away, and Buhrow said some of the former Bacon Veneer workers found employment in Waterloo.

"I know some of the employees went to John Deere," Buhrow said.  "Unfortunately it's becoming more of a bedroom community, but we're always looking at opening new businesses."

City leaders hope the Quad/Graphics's building can be an asset for a company seeking to set up, and with a work force ready to return to a payroll.

"You could have five or six companies look at the building," said Hamilton.  "One of them may take it.  It may put Marengo at the head of the pack as far as job opportunities go."

"We don't need to lose any more jobs in Marengo," said Cindy McBride, has owned the Lucky 6 Lanes on the city's southern edge for decades.  "We want it to grow and prosper, and we just hope the building doesn't sit empty and maybe we can bring someone else in."

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