This year’s BEMA Convention (taking place June 20-24) offers an agenda filled with inspirational speakers, educational programming, networking opportunities, and other business-building sessions. Additionally, the event takes place in a picturesque locale: the Montage Palmetto Bluff located along the scenic May River. The 20,000-acre property is situated in the famed Lowcountry area between Hilton Head, SC, and Savannah, GA.

In order to accommodate the busy schedules of bakery professionals, attendees have the option to participate either in-person or via the virtual platform, which can be accessed remotely June 22 and 23. The interactive programming will include an array of skills and professional development workshops designed specifically for the baking industry workforce.

Getting to work

Workforce Wednesday is a recurring feature of BEMA Convention, designed to address labor shortages, skill gaps, and other concerns related to employment. This year, BEMA has partnered with Arizona State University (ASU) at Phoenix (recognized by U.S. News and World Report as the country’s most innovative school) to tackle the issues.

ASU faculty are addressing workforce needs though the school’s AZNext Program. The multi-prong approach of AZNext amplifies curriculum for industry-bound students, leads efforts to upskill and reskill the workforce, and assists companies in training their own new labor pools. This year’s Workforce Wednesday edition will tap into the ingenuity of ASU’s innovative leadership to offer three workforce-focused sessions.

  • Key Sustainability Issues for Bakery Products and Equipment:  This course will discuss the environmental and social hotspots associated with bakery products and equipment and highlight indicators used by CPG companies and retailers to measure sustainability performance.
  • Digital Twin & Industrial Internet of Things (IoT): A Technical & Business Discussion: This course will focus on themes of IoT and how project workstreams are relevant to these projects.
  • AZNext & Workforce Development Opportunities: This course will focus on how to directly address talent gaps, reduce training costs and how to enhance and add value for employees.

The 2023 edition of Workforce will take place virtually on Wednesday, June 21. The interactive, 50-minute sessions hosted by BEMA staff are accessible anywhere in the world and will provide participants with actionable skills they can apply immediately. Attendees of Workforce Wednesday can also join their peers virtually at Convention 2023 through BEMA Live on Thursday, June 22, and Friday, June 23.

“Partnering with ASU allows Workforce Wednesday participants the ability to tap into the insights of strong workforce development initiatives delivered by faculty from a top-tier institution,” says Emily Bowers, vice president of education and operations, BEMA. “Such a collaboration will offer participants new methods of addressing the need for an active and sustainable workforce today and in the future.”

Inspirational insights

This year, the BEMA Convention star speaker will share business wisdom and inspirational humor with attendees. Motivational business consultant Jeff Havens, founder of the Jeff Havens Company, is set to take the stage Thursday June 2023 at 9 a.m, in a keynote address sponsored by Kwik Lok.

Havens is a popular corporate trainer invited to present at events across multiple industries. His style combines communication advice, leadership wisdom, customer experience intelligence, and other information professionals can take home and apply to their daily business lives. He also has published multiple books, including Us vs. Them: Redefining the Multigenerational Workplace to Inspire Your Employees to Love Your Company, Drive Innovation, and Embrace Change and Reality: The Novel.

Encouraging education

In May, BEMA’s Membership Value and Engagement Committee awarded its annual Ascend Scholarship to Jasmine Monette, quality and continuous improvement manager with Lallemand North America Baking. To be eligible, candidates must be a first-time attendee, work at a BEMA-member company, demonstrate leadership qualities, and exhibit a desire to build their industry knowledge.

Monette has two options for her prize:

  • Paid registration to BEMA Convention 2023
  • Full access to the virtual Workforce Edition and BEMA Live! for themselves and their organization.

The virtual BEMA Live! Experience includes the keynote speaker and daily business sessions. Whichever she chooses, she will receive special recognition and an award during the General Membership Meeting at Convention.

“It’s our greatest hope that this year’s scholarship winners will get to experience the BEMA magic and comradery that comes from getting to know industry peers in a social, family-friendly environment,” says Kelly Allen, senior manager of membership and meetings. “BEMA is proud to offer a space where baker and equipment supplier professionals can come together to learn and network.”

Time for fun

In addition to the educational programming, BEMA attendees can take part in a range of fun and social events.

Wednesday, June 21

  • Golf at Hilton Head National, sponsored by Bundy Baking Solutions, 9 a.m to 2 p.m.
  • Morning kayaking at the Canoe Club Dock, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
  • Kid’s Welcome Event on the Chapel Lawn, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • First-time Attendee Welcome Reception, River House/Hush Speakeasy, 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Boats to Jamboree at Grace Dock, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Welcome Jamboree at Moreland Landing, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday, June 23

  • Tours program, various locations, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • BEMA Block Party and Giveback, Village Green, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Saturday, June 24

  • Chairman’s Reception on the Sunrise Lawn, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Chairman’s Dinner and Dance in the Wilson Ballroom, 7:30 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Some programs require pre-registration. For more information about BEMA Convention 2023 or to register, visit