A bill introduced last week in the Iowa Senate seeks to provide resources to small grocery store owners fighting to keep their stores open amidst economic and workforce challenges and competition from big box retailers.
The legislation would create the Grocer Reinvestment Fund and establish a grant and loan program to help locally-owned grocery stores selling perishable foods invest in their businesses. Cynthia Farmer, policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs, says, “The Grocer Reinvestment Fund and Program would provide financial support to grocers for cost-saving efforts and business efficiency to ensure long-term sustainability.”
The Iowa Economic Development Authority will oversee the grant and loan program if the bill passes. Funding will be available to grocery stores that sell canned and frozen food; fresh fruits and vegetables; and fresh meat, fish, and poultry. The business must employ 25 or fewer individuals and plan to create new jobs or increase compensation for existing employees.