Each year, the MADE Awards brings to light a variety of products and businesses that in some cases might otherwise have flown under the radar, from marine bean bags to handmade swimwear. The purpose of the awards is to draw attention to manufacturers and makers in the Cape Fear region, revealing that the area is home to more made-in-Wilmington products than residents and even business leaders might realize.
The Greater Wilmington Business Journal launched the MADE Awards for that very reason, to recognize makers, manufacturers, artisans, designers, small businesses and the businesses that support them in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties.
Those chosen by the judges each year cover a wide range of products being conceived and produced in the local market.
This year, nominations came in from businesses vying in six categories: Manufacturing, Functional Product (examples include tools, gadgets, beauty products, furniture and industrial/medical devices), Arts (such as apparel, accessories, textiles, home goods and stationery), Food & Beverage (such as wine and spirits, dry/baked/canned goods and sustainable foods), Exporter and Supporter (examples include patent law firms, manufacturing associations, SBA lenders and retail markets that carry primarily local products).
A panel of outside judges combed through the nominations and were asked to base their choices for winners on several factors, including:
• Does the business have unique offerings in its market?
• Which companies are likely to grow sales the most, particularly in other parts of the country and/or internationally?
• Is the continued growth of the company likely to result in the creation of more jobs in the region and a positive impact on local economic development?
• and for the Supporter category: Which organization is best equipped to help businesses that make products expand quickly, resulting in more jobs locally and other positive impacts on local economic development?
In the end, the judges chose three top winners for the Manufacturing, Functional Product, Food & Beverage, Exporter and Arts categories and one overall for the Supporter designation. Those winners are profiled on the following pages.
The winners will each have a table at this year’s WilmingtonBiz Conference & Expo, also produced by the Business Journal, on Oct. 5 at the Wilmington Convention Center.
Outside of the annual awards, the Business Journal wants to continue to spotlight the MADE focus year-round. Each month in one of our print editions, we’ll feature a locally based company making goods and products in the Cape Fear region.
To be considered for the feature, contact [email protected]
To see the winners for the Manufacturer Category, click here
To see the winners for the Functional Product Category, click here
To see the winners for the Food and Beverage Category, click here
To see the winners for the Arts Category, click here
To see the winners for the Supporter Business Category, click here
To see the winners for the Exporter Category, click here
JUDGING THE APPLICANTS
The MADE award’s goal is to recognize products made in Southeastern North Carolina.
Any company with an operation in New Hanover, Brunswick or Pender counties was eligible. Their product could be in production or in the prototype stage.
After the nomination period, a panel of outside judges reviewed the submissions and picked the winners.
In picking the winners, judges were asked to weigh whether the nominated businesses had unique offerings in their market; which were likely to grow sales the most, particularly in other parts of the country and/or internationally; and if continued growth would likely result in the creation of more jobs in the region and impact local economic development.
For the Supporter category, judges considered what nominated organization was best equipped to help businesses that make products expand quickly.
2023 MADE JUDGES
Dean, UNCW Cameron School of Business
Director, CFCC’s Small Business Center
Director of Workforce Development, CFCC
Director of Business Banking, Excite Credit Union
Director, UNCW Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Director, Brunswick Community College’s Small Business Center