The Illinois Department of Commerce's Office of Tourism is celebrating artisans, products and experiences unique to the state with the new Illinois Made program. Illinois Office of Tourism Director Cory Jobe said Illinois Made is an opportunity to feature the entrepreneurial spirit that is happening in the state. Jobe said Illinois is home to a thriving culture of artisans and craftspeople, making products that are in high demand among people looking for authentic, out of the ordinary experiences.
"We have a lot of craftspeople here in the state of Illinois and through the Illinois Made program, we want to bring these amazing experiences and entrepreneurial passions to life," said Jobe.
Jobe said the Office of Transportation wants to inspire travel to the state of Illinois through the eyes of entrepreneurs that are going to make up the Illinois Made campaign.
Visitors can get an intimate glimpse into the lives of these craftspeople through a video series available on the Enjoy Illinois website. In addition, in-depth editorial features allow visitors to dive deeper into the unique story behind each maker's establishment. Each maker feature includes an interactive map highlighting other travel experiences, amenities, and attractions near the maker's location, allowing visitors to build an amazing customized travel itinerary unique to them.
"From our world-class museums and iconic attractions, to our beautiful state parks and historic sites, Illinois has something for everyone," Department of Commerce Acting Director Sean McCarthy said. "Illinois Made highlights the people and experiences that make Illinois one of a kind, and will attract new visitors to explore our state, supporting local businesses and generating important tourism spending for our communities."
Bloomington's Epiphany Farms Restaurant is one of the first small businesses to be named an Illinois Maker. Jobe said there are many Epiphany Farms across the state who have an incredible passion for what they do and love making great things.
"If you look in terms of what's happening in economic development, it's really small business owners who are driving the state's economy. There's no better way for a state tourism office to highlight their passion and their craft because we know the visitors want that unique experience to purchase products and take them back home," said Jobe.
Jobe said the program will come with no cost to small business owners and there are over 200 businesses that will be featured.