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SALT LAKE CITY — There are a few thousand different manufacturers across Utah, and a new contest set to begin next week aims to showcase the state’s quiet strength in the manufacturing world.
On Monday, people will be able to nominate all sorts of products manufactured in the state for the Coolest Thing Made in Utah contest. It was created by the Utah Manufacturers Association and modeled after a similar contest held in Wisconsin, according to Todd Bingham, president and CEO of the organization.
The purpose of the contest is to educate Utahns about all the products manufactured in the state. Some of those products are known consumer items, and some are a piece to a bigger puzzle, such as parts of airplanes or defense vehicles.
“We manufacturer a lot of (recreation) products — a lot of things from bicycle products from world-class carbon-fiber bicycle rims to bowling balls. A large, large, large percentage of professional bowlers use bowling balls manufactured here in Utah,” Bingham explained.
Other examples of locally-made products include hunting products, candy, soft drinks, tables, kayaks, basketball items and medical devices, he said.
Here’s how the contest works:
The Utah Manufacturers Association will continue collecting contest nominations here from Monday until Feb. 21. After the organization verifies each product nominated is indeed manufactured in Utah (even if the company isn’t headquartered in the state), all the candidates will be eligible for online voting on Feb. 28 through March 5, where a Top 25 will be announced.
From there, the field will be whittled down to 10 contestants after another round held from March 14 to March 19. A final round, consisting of the top three candidates, will be held from March 21 to March 27. The winner will be announced at the Utah Manufacturers Association Expo on March 27. They will get a trophy and an article on the company will be featured on the Coolest Thing Made in Utah website, as well as in the Utah Manufacturers Association magazine Manufactured in Utah.
Contest organizers hope this year's contest will be the first of a yearly competition. They hope not only to showcase current products made in the state but to also inspire companies to create ideas and Utahns to buy locally.
“There are a lot of Utahns here who don’t know what we make here,” Bingham said. “There has been a lot of initiative and movement back toward buying local and made in the U.S.A., made in Utah, and we promote a lot of that.
“(We want to) raise awareness about what it is we make in the state of Utah and what it does for the economy — a $20 billion industry in Utah,” he continued, “but also help the public understand there are so many products they use every day that are made here. If they choose to purchase those and buy local, it certainly has a larger effect on the economy.”