Gov. Lee launches ‘Operation Open Road’ to alleviate supply chain issues heading into holiday season

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee grocery stores, restaurants and retailers are feeling the effects of the national supply chain crisis. We’ve probably all noticed empty store shelves and eateries out of certain menu items.

Lance Saunders, an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee business school, says the supply chain crisis started during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t think Tennessee is that much different than a lot of areas in the US right now. We’re just seeing the manifestation of lots and lots of little things that have added up to big things,” Saunders said.

In an effort to help get things moving, Governor Bill Lee and 14 other GOP governors, including those from Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, have pledged to take action at the state level to assist the trucking industry.

The plan includes modifying weight, size and load restrictions at the state level to allow cargo to move more efficiently and reducing the barriers to getting a Commercial Drivers License.

“Could it help? Yes. Do I think it’s going to help overnight? No,” Saunders said.

At the Federal level, Governor Lee is also calling on the Biden administration to end vaccine mandates for private employees — specifically the transportation industry — so driver shortages don’t get worse.

Saunders says it’s going to take more than just 15 state governors to solve the problem, but this could be a step in the right direction, along with things like competitive pay and normal levels of consumption.

“Things are going to work themselves out. Don’t panic buy, number one. That just makes things worse when people go out and panic buy. We saw that with toilet paper,” Saunders said.

Saunders also said that some big retailers like Target and Walmart have paid for their own ships to bring products overseas and stock their shelves heading into the holiday season.

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