“Coolest Thing Made in NC” contest to help show off innovative manufacturers in the state

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The North Carolina Chamber is putting on a contest to find what they call the coolest things in North Carolina.

The contest is meant to help show off the manufacturers and even small business and entrepreneurs who are leading the way with their own innovative solutions. Leaders from the NC Chamber shared their thoughts on why they decided to create the contest in the first place.

“Our state’s manufacturers are not only the backbone of North Carolina’s economy; they have been saving lives since the start of the pandemic. From producing safe and effective vaccines, to making the personal protective equipment for our health care heroes and others, North Carolina’s innovative manufacturing community has been vital to our state’s resilience and relaunch,” said NC Chamber President and CEO Gary Salamido. “The NC Chamber is thrilled that the first ‘Coolest Thing Made in NC’ contest received a tremendously positive response. We’ve been looking forward to bringing it back and celebrating the variety and quality of products manufactured statewide; what’s made in North Carolina makes North Carolina.” 

Here in Eastern North Carolina, local coalition leaders also took the time to express their excitement about the contest and the benefits it can bring to the region.

“The state of North Carolina is working to identify unique things that are made in North Carolina,” said Uconda Dunn the VP of Business Development for the Greenville ENC Alliance. “It brings awareness to the things that we have coming out of this part of the state. It brings awareness to the workforce that we have here that are able to make and create these types of products.”

Uconda Dunn is the Vice President of Business Development for the Greenville ENC Alliance. She says, Eastern North Carolina has some of their own innovative creators.

“We have companies such as R. A. W. Plastics here, who take the opportunity to go out and clean up the Tar River and then they make cool products out of the plastics that they pull from the river,” said Dunn.

Alan Riggs is the Chief Financial Officer for R.A.W. Plastics here in Greenville. He says they truly take the time to reuse plastics they collect.

“We take that plastic, we sort it from the seven different types, clean it, we shred it back down and turn essentially something destined for the dump or the environment, it gives it a whole new life so it can be used again,” said Riggs.

He says a contest like this can really bring awareness to how much actually gets recycled.

“Unfortunately, when you throw your waste into the blue bin only 10% of that gets recycled where we recycle all the plastic so there is another alternative out there that people can do and a way to buy recycled plastic products.”

They make items such as bowls, plant potters, keychains, earrings and anything else that can be used by consumers.

“We have these, these are our hex bowls. They’re actually made of nothing but solo cups. It takes about 50 solo cups to make a bowl,” said Riggs.

Both noting that this is a great opportunity to put Eastern North Carolina businesses on the map.

“A lot of these cool things are coming from entrepreneurs, so we want to make sure that not only big companies are recognized in doing this but also small business, entrepreneurs and startups,” said Dunn.

If you would like to nominate a local business who is producing innovative solutions, click here.

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