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IMA Launches 5th Annual “Makers Madness” Contest

Voters looking for unique and innovative candidates to rally behind will soon have their say, as the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) today launched the fifth annual "Makers Madness” contest, a bracket-style tournament to name The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois. 

Presented by Comcast Business, the competition celebrates the incredible work of manufacturers across Illinois, who have long served as the backbone of our state’s economy. Manufacturing is the largest contributor of any industry to the state’s Gross Domestic Product, supporting nearly a third of all jobs in Illinois and contributing more than $580 billion to the state’s economy each year. 

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 have to be in the state.

Nominations will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. on March 3. Voting to narrow the field to the Top 16 products will begin March 5, with consecutive rounds of voting taking place each week. The contest will culminate with an awards ceremony on April 10 at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield, where The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois 2024 winner will be named. 

"This contest turns the spotlight on the many amazing products created by manufacturers across our state and we look forward to seeing which items capture the hearts and minds of voters,” said Mark Denzler, President and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. "The manufacturing industry is driven by innovation, and this competition underscores the need for policymakers to support investments that allow manufacturers to make groundbreaking products while creating jobs and bringing economic prosperity to our communities.” 

Manufacturers in Illinois produce everything from life-saving therapies and medicines to electric vehicles and components used for space exploration. Our manufacturers keep store shelves stocked with nutritious food and delectable snacks and create sporting equipment used everywhere from neighborhood fields to professional leagues. They build agricultural equipment and create high-tech gadgets and components used for national defense and produce energy to power our homes and businesses. 

"We are excited to shine a light on the innovative products and services made right here in Illinois,” said Sean McCarthy, Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives. "Comcast is proud to partner with the IMA on Makers Madness again this year and to help power Illinois’ manufacturing sector by providing state-of-the-art connectivity and technology.” 


To ensure the state’s manufacturing sector remains strong, the IMA is advocating for the passage of several measures this legislative session. Priorities include proposals to support students and families entering the workforce through student loan employer tax credits and scholarships, advancing the development of cutting-edge technology by modernizing the state’s Research & Development tax credit, and allowing carbon capture and sequestration to help the state reach its clean energy goals.  

Previous contest winners include the Rosenberg Moon Habitat, the 3D printed polymer structure designed to house humans on the moon, manufactured by Ingersoll Machine Tools in Rockford; 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 14 – March 3: Nominations accepted at

March 5 – March 17: Voting on nominations to determine the Top 16

March 19 – March 24: First round of voting to determine Top 8

March 26 – March 31: Second round of voting to determine Top 4

April 2 – April 7: Final round of voting 

April 10: Winner of The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois announced


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