The Council Connection September 2021

Are you ready to discover “What’s New?” in the Hostess City of the South?!

Know Before You Go:

Registration Desk Hours

Location: Savannah Convention Center – Rotunda Booth

Thursday, September 9th: 7:00am – 5:00pm

Friday, September 10th: 7:00am – 5:00pm


Express Schedule (Shuttle Runs every 20-30 minutes)

Alida Hotel | Marriott Riverfront

Thursday, Sept. 9: 5:30pm – 10:30pm

Friday, Sept. 10: 7:30am – 1:30pm

Ferry Schedule

Wednesday, Sept. 8: Standard Service (1 ferry, 1 route to all three stops)

Thursday, Sept. 9: Standard Service (1 ferry, 1 route to all three stops)

Friday, Sept. 10: Standard Service (1 ferry, 1 route to all three stops) & Additional Service (City Hall Landing to Trade Center) 6-7a.m. & 10-11p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 11: Standard Service (1 ferry, 1 route to all three stops)

Convention Center Information

Savannah Convention Center

1 International Drive, Savannah, GA 31421

Stay Connected

  • Wi-Fi is complimentary | Network: SI2021 | Password: WhatsNew?
  • Charging Stations will be available throughout the conference
  • Follow us on Social Media: Don’t forget to use the hashtag: #SEPCSouthernInnovations

Health & Safety Protocol

The SEPC's top priority is the health and safety of our attendees, exhibitors, and staff. As we have prepared for Southern Innovations, we want to assure you that we are following all guidelines set forth by the CDC, WHO, as well as state and local officials. The SEPC has been actively working with the Savannah Convention Center (SCC), as well as The Westin, to address the venues’ health and safety guidelines and develop an onsite preparedness plan. Here are some of those safety guidelines which will be implemented during our conference:

  • GBAC STAR Accreditation: Savannah Convention Center is among the first wave of convention centers committed to achieving GBAC STAR accreditation for cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention. It is the industry’s only outbreak prevention, response, and recovery accreditation. GBAC STAR establishes requirements to assist facilities with work practices, protocols, procedures, and systems to control risks associated with infectious agents, such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.
  • Touchless Experience: With the implementation of cashless transactions for parking, food and beverage, and coat and bag check to opening doors, directing guests, and exhibitor services desk, we are creating several no-contact experiences to reduce the number of person-to-person touchpoints throughout Savannah Convention Center.
  • Crowd Density Protocols: From ingress/egress, building access, physical distancing guidelines for public spaces, food lines, meeting rooms, and exhibit halls to reevaluating attendee flow, analyzing occupancy limits, and applying registration protocols, we are creating a safe environment for attendees, exhibitors, and team members.
  • Enhanced Communication: Visitors to Savannah Convention Center can expect gentle reminders on required physical distancing and hygiene guidelines in the form of signage near elevators, escalators, high-traffic common areas, food stands, restrooms, and any other place we can find to help reinforce protocols and guidelines. You also will see information on our social channels, and interior monitors throughout the facility.
  • Provided PPE: provided personal protective equipment onsite (Masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, exhibitor sanitization supplies). Everyone should wear a cloth face cover in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

To review the Savannah Convention Center’s comprehensive Getting Back to Business Plan, please visit https://www.savconventioncenter.com/returnplan/.

Exhibitor and Attendee Etiquette

  • Exhibitors and non-exhibiting attendees shall not congregate or solicit trade in doorways or aisles.
  • Conduct of exhibitors and attendees shall be professional and courteous at all times.
  • Exhibitors and non-exhibiting attendees may not enter the exhibit space of another exhibitor without express permission. If admission has been granted, exhibitors shall be courteous and move aside when the host exhibitor is showing merchandise to prospective buyers.
  • Under no circumstances shall an exhibitor or non-exhibiting attendees interrupt another exhibitor showing merchandise to a prospective buyer.
  • Exhibitors or non-exhibiting attendees may not have models, signs, or other solicitation devices outside assigned exhibit space or in aisles.
  • No furniture, product or packing materials may be left in the aisle during show hours.
  • No exhibit will be permitted which, in the view of Show Management, is offensive or poses a danger or potential danger to exhibitors or buyers.
  • Exhibitors or non-exhibiting attendees must keep their badge on at all times. Badge swapping is prohibited.

Badge swapping is prohibited. If any company is found in violation, they will lose their right to exhibit and attend the conference.

Produce Donations

The SEPC is proud to donate all leftover produce from Southern Innovations to Society of St. Andrew. A Society of St. Andrew representative will be dropping stickers off to each booth during the Expo on Friday. If your company is interested in donating leftover product, please attach the stickers to donated product and leave in your booth after the Expo. If you have any questions, please stop by the Registration Desk.

Who’s Attending?

The attendee list can be accessed by logging in to your registration and selecting “Attendees” within the “Post Registration” dropdown.

*Please note that any external company solicitation has not been approved by the SEPC.

What Do I Wear?

The weather is shaping up to be mostly sunny. Overall conference attire is business casual. Use this guide to help decide what to wear throughout the weekend (also available in the conference app)

Welcome Reception (Thursday, 9/9): Business Casual

Chairman’s Dinner Dance (Friday, 9/10): Dressy Casual

Saturday Activities (9/11):

  • Founders Memorial Golf Tournament: Golf Casual
  • Sporting Clays: Outdoor Casual
  • Local Tour – Savannah Historic Tour: Casual with comfortable walking shoes
  • Ultimate Tailgate Experience: Sports Casual (Wear your game day shirts or jerseys and proudly show support for your favorite team!)

***Please note, you must wear your conference badge and bring a valid ID to each of the events. Any badge swapping will result in dismissal from the event***

Fun Stuff

  • Expo Extras: We will feature a refreshment lounge as well as a relaxation station during the expo on Friday. We’ll also have Happy Hour during the final hour of the expo. All badge-wearing attendees of Southern Innovations are welcome…and did we mention it’s complimentary?!
  • Ultimate Tailgate Experience: Don’t forget to go Buy-a-Square! ½ of the proceeds will be donated to a local charity and ½ will be awarded to the winner!! Have you teamed up for our epic cornhole tournament? It’s a single elimination tournament with a grand prize for the winning team!
  • SEPC Prayer Breakfast: Sunday, 9/12th from 7-8:30am | Location: The Westin – Grand Ballroom B |We invite SEPC members and family to join us in worship and fellowship on Sunday morning during our SEPC Prayer Breakfast. Coffee and pastries will be served.

Our office will be closed Monday, September 6th through Monday, September 13th. Please contact us with any questions at info@seproducecouncil.com.

Educational Session I

Recruiting and Retaining a Multi-Generational Workforce

Hiring and keeping strong employees is more difficult than ever in today’s market landscape! Join Claudia St. John of Affinity HR to learn about the current hiring challenges and ideas on how to combat them. Claudia will also talk about retention strategies because keeping your current team members is priority number one! Throughout the topics, we will look at generational specific information to help us understand how to improve engagement with existing and potential associates.

Claudia St. John

Founder & President | Affinity HR Group, Inc.

Claudia St. John, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, is founder and President of Affinity HR Group, Inc., a national human resources and management consulting firm specializing in hiring and recruiting, HR compliance and employee engagement. Affinity HR Group is the endorsed HR partner and resource for more than 17 national trade associations and their member companies. As a consultant and frequent speaker, Claudia has given hundreds of presentations and workshops on such topics as how to recruit like a pro, common management mistakes, employee engagement, and multi-generational workplace challenges. She is the author of the Amazon.com bestselling book Transforming Teams – tips for improving collaboration and building trust. Her weekly HR Minute e-mails and monthly articles are followed by thousands of business leaders nationwide.

Educational Session II

What's New?: Trends and Innovation

Join Anne-Marie Roerink of 210 Analytics in her review of the hottest trends in the industry to show us “What’s New?” in technology and innovation. Each of the trends highlighted in the session will feature a connection to the four “What’s New?” sections on the tradeshow floor – At the Farm, In the Store, On the Menu, and For the Planet – so during the Expo you can take a look at the latest products and companies that have innovations connected to these trending topics.

Anne-Marie Roerink

Principal | 210 Analytics, LLC

Anne-Marie Roerink is a Principal at 210 Analytics, LLC—providing customized research and marketing strategies with a specialty in food retailing for clients such as the Food Marketing Institute, National Grocers Association, National Confectioners Association and many others. Through countless studies and presentations for audiences large and small, Anne-Marie has developed an excellent perspective on the changing nature of the shopper and the food retailing business. Anne-Marie offers a diverse and in-depth view on retailing financials, operations and shopper behavior, and how/why these issues are important to various organizations, today and in the future. Prior to founding 210 Analytics, Anne-Marie was the Head of Research for the Food Marketing Institute.


The Power of Empathy: How to Have More Compassion for Yourself and Others

We can all agree that 2020 through now has brought on its own set of challenges. Carrie Grace will be sharing inspiring stories and tips on how to develop more empathy for others, finding ways to fill our wells to pour out to others, and to create a deeper sense of community and connectivity.

Carrie Grace

Motivational Speaker

Carrie Grace is a former teacher turned motivational speaker. She is on a mission to create more compassionate work and school cultures. She currently travels the country to inspire and encourage others to live their best lives and spread more kindness. She also helps people take more risks to get from where they are to the life they truly want. She has spoken at companies such as Marriott, Target, Jack Daniels, and many more.

Keynote Luncheon Speaker

David Butler

Chief Growth Officer | Kids2

Former VP of Innovation and Entrepreneurship | The Coca-Cola Company

David Butler is a designer, strategist, and investor. As Kids signs its products and builds its brands globally. Prior to joining Kids2, David led global design and innovation for The Coca-Cola Company where he leveraged the power of design to help double the value of the company in less than a decade. Before joining Coke, David led brand strategy for Sapient where he helped Fortune 500 companies transform into digital companies. David began his career as a graphic designer where he specialized in designing large scale branding systems for Fortune 500 companies including AT&T, Coca-Cola, UPS and the International Olympic Committee. In 2009 David was named, “Master of Design” by Fast Company Magazine and in 2012 to Forbes’ “Executive Dream Team.” He is a best-selling author of “Design to Grow: How Coca-Cola Learned to Combine Scale and Agility (and How You Can Too)", published in over in 25 languages.

Southern Innovations Digital Toolkit Now Available!

The SEPC is pleased to provide you with our newest digital toolkit. We hope you will take advantage of these digital tools available for you as you prepare to join us in Savannah for Southern Innovations! Customize each graphic for your company's booth number and information.

Email Signature: right click to save
Facebook: right click to save
Instagram: right click to save
Linked In: right click to save
Twitter: right click to save

Safe travels and see you in Savannah!



Cultivating Ideas – Growing Relationships – Producing Results

Each year, the SEPC strives to curate an impactful series of industry programs and networking events for our members. The SEPC Virtual Garden is our newest platform through which we will continue to keep members abreast of the latest developments in produce—whether those are happening in the soil, in the cloud, or anywhere in between.

Through the SEPC Virtual Garden, we have begun planting the seeds from our founding pillars – Networking, Innovation, Community, and Education – so that our members will reap the benefits of harvesting quality experiences guaranteed to increase the value of their membership.

In case you missed them, several sessions are already available on demand!

The key to the success of our SEPC Virtual Garden is the community who tends it, and we are eager to serve alongside our SEPC family to see what we can grow together!

Our newest Southern Roots Member Spotlight features Samantha Snyder of ToJo Mushrooms. Please take a moment and get to know Samantha!


The SEPC is eager to announce the outstanding nominees for this year’s Next Generation Award honoring an SEPC member 39 years or younger who has been employed in the produce industry for at least four years and has made a significant contribution to the industry!


Community Updates

Our featured charitable partner for September is Society of St. Andrew, whose partnership enables us to do our part to help feed America’s hungry. In addition to financial support as well as disaster relief donations, the SEPC is honored to work with the Society of St. Andrew to donate all leftover food from Southern Exposure and Southern Innovations each year to help those who are hungry in the Southeast. Visit https://seproducecouncil.com/giving-back/ to learn more!

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have gained valuable insight into SEPC’s theme for 2021 – Produce: Powered by People. The produce industry has been deemed essential during this pandemic, and whether companies are serving from the fields or delivering to our tables we have all felt the tremendous impact. We would love for you to share how you have witnessed essential workers from your company or others within our industry who have risen above the challenges to make a difference in the communities we serve.

Share your support of Produce: Powered by People!


Registration for our fall session of Produce Inspection Training is now open! This session will be held within the SEPC Virtual Garden.

2021-2022 SEPC Annual Membership

Join the SEPC Today and Thrive

As an SEPC member, you’ll join a diverse group of like-minded produce professionals, from farmers to distributors and retailers to chefs. It’s about growing your knowledge, sharpening your skills, sharing your passion with others, and enjoying what makes this corner of the country extra special: its long tradition of bringing people together through food that is grown, distributed, and cooked with love.

Please review the membership information on our website and select which annual membership* best suits your company's needs.

*Please note that our annual membership period runs June through May of the following year. We do not prorate our membership fees.

**All conference attendees are required to be SEPC members in order to attend any events. Exhibitors are required to maintain a corporate membership.**

Our Sponsors

SEPC sponsors are a vital part of our existence. Simply put, sponsor contributions help us bring more to the table for everyone. Like better networking and education events, fresh talent, and a broader awareness of best practices throughout our industry. And of course, when you help us promote produce, your organization will gain crucial exposure at our events and engagements throughout the year.

Interested in becoming an SEPC Sponsor?

We thank you for your support and look forward to boosting your business in return.

Check out this month’s Sponsor Spotlights on our social media platforms to learn more about each of our SEPC Level Sponsors!


September Trivia Question


We’re so excited to celebrate “What’s New?” during Southern Innovations this month! Supporting our SEPC family is at the heart of everything we do, so we’d love to share “What’s New?” within your company as you prepare to join us in Savannah! Submit an image of your new product, technology, or unique brand approach, then post on social media using our #SEPCSouthernInnovations!

Contact us

Please note that our mailing address has changed! See our new mailing address below in the contact information.

242 North Masonic St. | Millen, GA 30442 | 877.720.SEPC (7372) | info@seproducecouncil.com