Three Jacksonville manufacturers are in the running of an online contest to be named the Coolest Thing Made in Illinois.
The Illinois Manufacturers Association launched the first annual Makers Madness contest at the beginning of February. Modeled after the March Madness college basketball tournament, the Makers Madness contest is a bracket style tournament that will pit products from around the state against each other to determine which one is the coolest thing made in Illinois.
Mark Denzler, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association says that the competition is designed to highlight the many different products manufactured in Illinois.
“We had about 260 unique products that were nominated in the last couple weeks, and those will be paired down into kind of the sweet sixteen. The neat thing about this contest is that, you know iconic products such as a Caterpillar bulldozer or John Deere combine, and certainly in Jacksonville Eli is well known, but then you have some smaller manufacturers that are not as well known and it’s a great opportunity for them to help showcase their products.”
The Big Eli Ferris Wheel is one of the products competing for a spot in the “Sweet Sixteen”. Denzler says that the contest gives manufacturers large and small, the opportunity to let residents know they are made in Illinois.
Serious Lip Balm, and Pallet Repair Systems are also Jacksonville based manufacturers that are in the pool of contenders nominated for the sweet sixteen.
Denzler says that the contest is a fun way to highlight the importance of the manufacturing industry in the state.
“It’s just a fun online contest to let Illinoisans determine what the coolest thing made in Illinois is. Manufacturing is a huge sector of the Illinois economy, we employ 592,000 men and women on factory floors and produce $304 billion in economic output every year, which is about 12% of the gross state product. It’s the single largest share, and so this fun contest is a great way to show the people of Illinois what is made in Illinois, along with showcasing great career opportunities that are available in manufacturing today.”
According to the I.M.A., manufacturers employ over half a million people in Illinois at an average salary of $88,691, that accounts for $52 billion in wages and benefits. However, the industry is facing a worker shortage and skills gap as 300,000 members of the baby boom generation are set to retire in the coming years.
The Makers Madness contest voting is now open with the sweet sixteen to be determined by March 8th. Voting for the top eight will follow between March 10th and 15th, and will continue with the bracket style rounds through the month of March with the final voting to be open from the 24th to the 29th. An award ceremony is planned to name the Coolest Thing Made in Illinois on April 1st.
To vote or to find out more information about the contest, go to www.makersmadnessil.com