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Stung by outbreak, once-growing Iowa company orders layoffs

April 10, 2020 GMT

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — A business services company in Waterloo has laid off dozens of workers after the coronavirus pandemic upended its recent expansion.

VGM Group announced this week that it has eliminated 58 full-time jobs and offered transfers, extended furloughs or early retirement packages to another 17 workers. The employee-owned company said 15 part-time jobs were also affected by the cuts but it wasn’t immediately clear how.

VGM Group provides purchasing, insurance, health care management, marketing and other services to thousands of business customers across North America.

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The company had been expanding in recent years and employs more than 1,000 people nationwide, the majority in the Waterloo area known as the Cedar Valley. It’s repeatedly been recognized as one of the top workplaces in Iowa.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a very challenging time for our employees, customers and communities we serve and has caused us to make some very difficult decisions about our workforce,” VGM CEO Mike Mallaro said. “Although this is very difficult for everyone in the VGM family, these actions are necessary.”

A record 67,000 people filed for unemployment benefits in Iowa during the week that ended April 4. State officials say the job cuts have impacted employers across the economy.