The Senate on Aug. 10 passed President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan that includes two provisions the National Grocers Association said could positively affect independent grocers if also approved by the House.
One of the provisions is the Apprenticeship Program for Commercial Drivers Under 21 Operating Interstate, which establishes an apprenticeship pilot program to allow commercial drivers under the age of 21 to operate over state lines. The NGA said this would help ease pressure on supply due to the nationwide trucker shortage—an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Grocers have voiced concern with Congress over supply chain issues for years and the pandemic has only brought added pressures to our wholesalers, who have worked diligently to make sure grocers have product to keep their shelves stocked and their communities fed,” Robert Yeakel, director of government relations for NGA, said in a release. “The apprenticeship pilot program is a helpful first step to relieve the nationwide trucker shortage.”
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The second provision establishes a grant program to deploy publicly accessible electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, including in independent grocers’ parking facilities, NGA said. Grant funds will be provided to state and local agencies and dispersed to entities to install and operate the stations.
“As EV usage expands in the coming years, grocery retailers will be equipped to offer this valuable service and added convenience to shoppers,” said Chris Jones, SVP of government relations and counsel for NGA.
Chains such as Meijer and Stop & Shop have recently made investments in EV charging. As part of its commitment to sustainable retailing, Stop & Shop partnered with Volta Industries Inc. on the installation of five EV stations at its stores across the Northeast. An additional 50 Volta charging stations will be installed across the Quincy, Mass.-based supermarket’s five-state footprint by the end of the year. Meijer, meanwhile, has partnered with EVgo to bring more EV charging stations to its supercenters this summer.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in the Senate on a 69-30 vote. It includes funding for roads, bridges, water infrastructure, freight rail, transit systems, the electric grid and broadband.