Progress 2011: Battling job loss

Published 4:00 pm Thursday, March 3, 2011

Marilyn Hoffman is the executive director of Lake Mills Chamber Development Corp. -- Michelle Haacke/Albert Lea Tribune

Hero: Marilyn Hoffman

Secret identity: executive director, Lake Mills Chamber Development Corp.
Base of Operations: Lake Mills, Iowa
Superpowers: detail-oriented, compassion for people, positive personality
Kryptonite: keeping up with new social networking forms of communication
husband, Jerry, two daughters, one son and eight grandchildren
Origin: She worked for the Lake Mills Graphic and then Winn-Worth Betco before becoming the first staff person at Lake Mills Chamber Development Corp. in 2001. The economic-development agency was the former Lake Mills Chamber of Commerce and Lake Mills Development Group.

By the numbers:

400 layoffs are estimated because of downsizing at the Cummins Filtration plant in Lake Mills, as it prepares to move a portion of its facility to Mexico. Although the company has delayed a major downsizing to the second business quarter of 2011, Cummins has already let more than 150 employees go. Cummins is projected to lay off another 200 workers in the spring.

1/4 of the workforce in Lake Mills — population 2,140 — will be affected by the layoffs. It’s estimated to affect 73 students in the Lake Mills school district whose parents work at the plant, 35 married couples with both husband and wife working at the plant, 130 employees with Lake Mills addresses and 80 employees with Albert Lea addresses.

Email newsletter signup

3 people, Hoffman, Mark Skaar of KIOW radio and Carol Peterson of the Iowa State Extension Service, joined forces to form the Community Cares Coalition. With Lake Mills already reeling from layoffs at the Winnebago plant, Hoffman spearheaded this coalition to bring together local resources to assist people being laid off.

7 categories of community support are represented in the CCC: financial/budgeting assistance, food banks and food assistance, health/medical/dental/family resources, housing, mental health/counseling, workforce/employment and utility assistance/weatherization. More than 50 phone numbers of local people and agencies are listed in the CCC directory for those who need assistance to call.