Voting Begins in 2023 “Makers Madness” Contest to Name The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois

Nearly 250 unique products vying to advance to Top 16

February 21, 2023 – The initial round of voting is now open in the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s (IMA) fourth annual “Makers Madness” contest, a bracket-style tournament in which the public will decide what product earns the 2023 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. A recent study found the total economic impact of manufacturing in Illinois is estimated to be between $580 billion and $611 billion every year – the largest share of any industry to the state’s Gross Domestic Product.

Nearly 250 unique products from every corner of the state were nominated for this year’s contest, with nominees ranging from agriculture equipment and COVID testing supplies to iconic pantry staples, sweet treats and a variety of vehicles. Voting throughout the contest will take place at, where voters can now choose which products will advance to the Top 16. Voting for this round is open now and runs through 11:59 p.m. on March 5, and participants can vote for up to five times per day. Consecutive rounds of voting in head-to-head matchups will take place each week, culminating with an awards ceremony on March 29 when The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois will be named.

“The diverse range of products nominated in this year’s Makers Madness contest demonstrates the innovation and ingenuity that is driving our state and nation forward,” said Mark Denzler, President and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Manufacturers are proud to serve as an anchor for their communities, and we hope this contest provides a glimpse of the hard work taking place on factory floors across Illinois. We look forward to seeing which products will move on to the next round as we celebrate our industry’s many achievements.”

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.

“I’m really excited about all the nominations. They show not only the depth and breadth of what’s made in our State, but that Illinois is truly a national manufacturing trendsetter,” said Sean McCarthy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives. “May the coolest things move on to the Top 16!”

To ensure the state’s manufacturing sector remains strong, the IMA is working to pass several measures this legislative session including reforming the state’s biometric information privacy law, modernizing and making permanent Illinois’ Research & Development Tax Credit, creating further workforce development opportunities and providing tax incentives to spur additional Illinois manufacturing.

Previous contest winners include Rivian’s all-electric R1T truck made in Normal, the first all-electric truck in production featuring four motors, with one powering each wheel; the Self-Regulating Traffic Signal Heater by Termico Technologies in Elk Grove Village, which uses conductive particles to heat traffic signals so they remain free of ice and snow and traffic can safely navigate our roadways; and the 797F Mining Truck manufactured by Caterpillar, Inc. in Decatur, the world’s largest mechanical truck\

Timeline of events:

February 2 – February 19: Nominations accepted at

February 21 – March 5: Voting on nominations to determine Top 16

March 7 – March 12: First round of voting to determine Top 8

March 14 – March 19: Second round of voting to determine Top 4

March 21 – March 26: Final round of voting

March 29: 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



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