Whether it’s in a home business, a farm-based workshop or a large production facility, cool things are being made in Elkhart County daily. A new countywide contest will highlight 50 of those products and the community will be invited to vote for the Coolest Thing Made in Elkhart County.

“Elkhart County is a destination where quality craftsmanship, innovation and collaboration are always on display,” said Diana Lawson, chief executive officer of the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This contest will tell the stories of the people and companies who have turned Elkhart County into a well-crafted community.”

The contest is inspired by the Vibrant Communities initiative. The Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau is managing the contest. Other sponsors include the Elkhart County Commissioners, the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County and the Community Foundation of Elkhart County in collaboration with the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.

Products from any sector can be nominated for the Coolest Thing Made in Elkhart County contest at madeinelkhartcounty.com and companies may nominate their own products.

All nominations will be reviewed to ensure the product is made in Elkhart County. Submissions will be accepted until March 31 or until 50 products have been accepted into the contest.

As nominations are accepted, they will be featured on the contest website with an article and short video leading up to a two-week voting period in April. The winner will be revealed at a celebration event in May.

The idea for the contest was born when Commissioner Mike Yoder learned of a similar contest seeking the coolest product manufactured in the state of Wisconsin.

Yoder realized that there is enough “cool” in Elkhart County alone. With the support of his fellow commissioners — and in true Elkhart County nature — a collaboration was created with the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“Communities can develop bad habits, and one is to constantly look at the grass that appears to be greener elsewhere,” Yoder said. “This contest will focus our attention to the green grass under our feet: The amazing, innovative and creative people and businesses right here in Elkhart County.”

Chris Stager, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County, said he was excited to support the contest because it fits right into the mission of the EDC.

“This project will pay homage to our local workforce and showcases Elkhart County’s leading manufacturing capabilities and companies,” he said. “It highlights the scope and reach of the array of products produced everyday here in Elkhart County that are used locally and throughout the world.”

Candy Yoder, chief program officer for the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, added, “Elkhart County and its people excel at making things. As we seek to help make this community an even more vibrant and thriving place to live and work, we’re excited to join this effort to showcase what makes Elkhart County great.”

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