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Illinois Manufacturers’ Association Launches Second Annual “Makers Madness” Contest to Determine The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois

January 27, 2021

Illinois Manufacturers’ Association Launches Second Annual “Makers Madness” Contest to Determine The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois

Nominations Now Open for Bracket-Style Tournament Showcasing Illinois Products

SPRINGFIELD –The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) is proud to launch the second annual “Makers Madness” contest, a bracket-style tournament in which voters across the state will decide which product is The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois.

Sponsored by Comcast Business, the competition shines a light on Illinois’ diverse manufacturing sector, which has played a critical role in the state and nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Manufacturers are not only developing life-saving vaccines and treatments, but also producing needed personal protective equipment, keeping store shelves stocked with important goods and nutritious foods and powering our homes and businesses.

Nominations for the Coolest Thing Made in Illinois are now being accepted at, where voting will take place throughout the contest. Any product manufactured in Illinois can be nominated. While qualifying products must be made in Illinois, the manufacturers’ headquarters do not need to be located in Illinois. Nominations will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. on February 14. Voting to narrow the field to the Top 16 products will begin February 17 with consecutive rounds of voting taking place each week. The contest will culminate with an awards ceremony on March 24 when The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois will be named.

“Manufacturing has always played a vital role in Illinois’ economy. Though the pandemic presented numerous challenges for manufacturers, they answered our nation’s call and rose to the occasion, underscoring the importance of creating and nurturing a strong manufacturing sector in Illinois,” said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “This contest is a celebration of manufacturing innovation and ingenuity, which will not only help solve this health and economic crisis, but also lead our state’s recovery.”

Last year’s winner was the 797F Mining Truck manufactured by Caterpillar, Inc. in Decatur. The competition featured products ranging from food goods, gadgets and toys to automobiles and components for the aerospace industry.

“Comcast Business is proud to partner with the IMA to support Illinois manufacturers and provide technologies that will spur innovations in manufacturing and will help advance the industry,” said Sean McCarthy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives. “We’re especially proud to sponsor Makers Madness, because it’s an excellent way to honor and highlight Illinois manufacturers that contribute to our economy and our way of life, not only here in the state but around the world.”

Statewide, manufacturing generates more than $304 billion in economic output, contributing 12 percent to the state’s Gross Domestic Product – the largest share of any industry in Illinois. Manufacturers employ 592,200 women and men in Illinois at an average salary of $88,691, providing $52 billion in wages and benefits.

Though manufacturing remains an economic powerhouse in Illinois, manufacturers here and across the country are facing the threat of an aging workforce. Over the next decade, it is estimated that 300,000 men and women will leave the industry as baby boomers begin to retire, presenting numerous career opportunities.

Timeline of events:

  • January 27 – February 14: Nominations accepted at
  • February 17 – February 28: Voting on nominations to determine Top 16
  • March 2 – March 7: First round of voting to determine Top 8
  • March 9 – March 14: Second round of voting to determine Top 4
  • March 16 – March 21: Final round of voting
  • March 24: Winner of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois Announced

About the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois. The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities. For more information, visit