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Voting Begins in Third Annual “Makers Madness” Contest to Name The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois

March 22, 2022

Voting Begins in Third Annual “Makers Madness” Contest to Name The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois

First Round of Voting Will Determine Top 16 in Bracket-Style Tournament

SPRINGFIELD – The initial round of voting is now open in the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s (IMA) third annual “Makers Madness” contest, a bracket-style tournament in which the public will vote on what product earns the 2022 title of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois.

Presented by Comcast Business, the competition celebrates the incredible work of manufacturers across Illinois, which have long served as the backbone of our state’s economy and are helping lead our recovery from the pandemic. Illinois manufacturers produce everything from life-saving vaccines and medical treatments to boundary-breaking electric vehicles and components used for space exploration. Our manufacturers keep store shelves stocked with nutritious food and delectable snacks, as well as create sporting equipment used everywhere from neighborhood fields to professional leagues. They make core structural products from steel, rebar and motors to chemicals and flavorings, and even create high-tech gadgets used for national defense and energy to power our homes and businesses.

More than 400 unique products from every corner of the state were nominated for the 2022 title of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois. This year’s nominees include everything from agriculture equipment and COVID testing supplies to iconic pantry staples and a variety of vehicles.

Voting throughout the contest will take place at, where voters can now choose which products should advance to the Top 16. Voting for this round will take place through 11:59 p.m. on April 3, and voters can vote for up to five individual product entries per day. Consecutive rounds of voting will take place each following week, culminating with an awards ceremony on April 27 when The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois will be named.

“Manufacturing is the backbone of our nation and makes the world a better place to live every single day, as evidenced by these amazing and innovative products. The wide range of products nominated in this year’s Makers Madness contest show the strength and diversity of our state’s manufacturing sector,” said Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “The women and men on factory floors who make these products should be proud of their hard work and the great impact they make on our economy and our state. The IMA is excited to watch this competition unfold as we celebrate the incredible achievements of Illinois manufacturers.”

“The number and diversity of entries coming in demonstrates just how dynamic the manufacturing sector is in Illinois,” said Sean McCarthy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives. “Comcast Business is proud to support the Makers Madness Contest and partner with the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association to showcase the work of manufacturers across the state.”

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 562,000 women and men in Illinois at an average salary of $88,691, providing $52 billion in wages and benefits.

To ensure the state’s manufacturing sector remains dynamic and strong, the IMA is working to implement several measures to grow manufacturing in Illinois. One key proposal is the MICRO Act, which would create tax incentives for companies to produce semiconductors and microchips in Illinois. Increasing production of these vital components in Illinois would help ease supply chain issues by ensuring access is not controlled by a handful of oversees providers.

The IMA is also backing legislation that would make permanent and modernize a tax credit that incentivizes manufacturers and other companies to invest in research and development projects in Illinois. This will encourage manufacturers to continue to invest in their communities by launching product studies, researching new technologies and testing revolutionary products right here at home.

In addition, the IMA is partnering with lawmakers and the governor’s office to fund a statewide marketing campaign to attract people to manufacturing careers. As workforce shortages continue to plague nearly every manufacturing sector, the marketing campaign will help introduce manufacturing careers to a wider audience.

Timeline of events:

  • March 2 – March 20: Nominations accepted at
  • March 22 – April 3: Voting on nominations to determine Top 16
  • April 5 – April 10: First round of voting to determine Top 8
  • April 12 – April 17: Second round of voting to determine Top 4
  • April 19 – April 24: Final round of voting
  • April 27: 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