A new group out of California aims to be a bridge to shared interests among a diverse set of groups all holding stakes in the increasingly complex world of logistics.
The Goods Movement Alliance (GMA), which says it’s focused on finding “common sense solutions to the goods movement crisis,” wants to be an information resource for its members and policymakers in a state key to moving product to much of the rest of the country.
“It’s a long time coming and something that we’ve seen be necessary for having a clearinghouse for goods movement and supply chain issues in Sacramento for all the stakeholders that touch this area,” said GMA co-chair Matthew Hargrove.
Hargrove is the president and CEO of the California Business Properties Association (CBPA), a legislative advocacy group for the real estate industry.
“For many, many years, lots of groups that are core to goods movement have all done a really good job of working together on putting focus on goods movement issues in Sacramento and engaging groups like mine [CBPA] that have been focused on goods movement issues when there was a big thing immediately in front of us, but weren’t always focused on goods movement issues as much as we should be,” Hargrove said. “There’s a lot of companies that are very much in the middle of goods movement, are very active in goods movement and we also have some members that are part of goods movement in supply chain but just aren’t as informed as they otherwise might be.”
Instead of representing the interests of one industry, GMA acknowledges the diversity of industries impacted by the process of getting products to their final destination.
In effect, the GMA looks to address the businesses connected by everything from trucking and warehousing restrictions to urban planning, environmental and labor considerations.
“Coming through Covid, I think that the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 really made people assess goods movement, transportation and supply chain issues in California,” Hargrove said. “And I think that bottleneck that we saw during Covid really made a lot of people sit up and understand that supply chain is a little bit more fragile than we hoped it would be.”
The group is a product of the CBPA and California Business Roundtable coming together, but the point is to pull in chambers of commerce, ports and local governments among others to coordinate on issues. A longer-term idea is to open up the group to other Western states with a regional event as early as next fall.
“It’s all one, big symbiotic relationship,” Hargrove said. “Goods movement doesn’t stop at our borders and the cost for all of us doesn’t stop at the borders either.”
While the GMA looks to be a resource, its purpose is not to lobby. Although, there’s plenty in the way of regulations that inspired the need for cross-industry collaboration.
Passage of the state’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), for example, created a test for determining whether a worker can be considered an independent contractor and holds implications for many, including thousands of independent truckers. Concerned drivers protested the bill earlier this year at the San Pedro Bay and Oakland ports following the Supreme Court’s decision over the summer not to hear a case challenging the law.
Assembly Bill 2840, which was not passed, aimed to stop warehouse development within 1,000 feet of schools, daycares, hospitals and other facilities dubbed “sensitive receptors.” It was later amended to limit such construction in the Inland Empire, a major hub of warehouses and distribution centers.
The bill was seen as a way to address the ongoing battle between developers and communities that argue industrial properties bring truck traffic and pollution. Critics of the bill said it would lead to loss of jobs and further exacerbate supply chain issues at a time when lack of available industrial property met with the growth of e-commerce has caused rents to surge. The impact of the bill would have extended beyond the development community to brands, retailers and any other user of warehouse and distribution space.
Infrastructure investment serves as one solution.
“Infrastructure is something we’re very concerned about,” Hargrove said. “We think the state really needs to put a lot more emphasis on the heavy transportation sector in terms of making sure that sector of the supply chain is robust enough to handle what the state is expecting it to do.”
More specifically, Hargrove pointed to investment in consumer transportation when it comes to reducing emissions with hybrid and electric vehicles. The hope, he said, is that more federal dollars will be pumped into the heavy-duty transportation vehicle sector, which could help clear up some of the local tensions around warehouse sites.
“We have to be able to get goods to where they belong and, in California, one of the unique challenges that we have is that so much of the nation’s imports and exports are coming through California, through all of our ports. So our state is, to a certain extent, having to bear the infrastructure burden for something that is servicing many, many other states,” he said.
“We need to be able to figure out how to better partner with the federal government, draw down more funding to work on our infrastructure issues as well as, in the state, figure out ways to put more dollars in where the infrastructure is needed to support not only the goods movement side of things, but transportation issues,” Hargrove said.