With the Olympic Games and Academy Awards providing a worthy backdrop, we’re set to announce finalists in the most important competition of the spring, the Colorado Manufacturing Awards. Gold medals and Oscars have nothing on us.

The 2018 CMAs again recognize outstanding maker and manufacturing businesses across multiple industries, but this year with a meaningful twist. We invited 10 of Colorado’s creative trade and business organizations to help us select worthy finalists within their industry communities. It’s a tip of the cap to their great work, but also a reminder of how manufacturing’s influence spans so many of the region’s key industries.

So here’s a first look at finalists from half the field. We’ll report on the rest next week, as we near the April 5 Colorado Manufacturing Awards gala event, where we’ll announce category winners at The Cable Center at University of Denver.

At some point in the past year, we had no choice but to distinguish Colorado’s brilliant cadre of contract manufacturers with their own category. We reached out to the Rocky Mountain Tooling and Machining Association (RMTMA) to help us identify three finalists, and it’s a predictably strong group. Boulder’s Tecomet, Ft. Collins’ Manes Machine, and standout Arvada aerospace shop Faustson Tool are this year’s deserving finalists for Outstanding Contract Manufacturer.

The Colorado Distillers Guild helped us select three candidates for Outstanding Craft Distiller. Finalists reflect a deep statewide movement that’s positioned Colorado’s sector as a national leader. Carbondale’s Marble Distilling Company, Crested Butte’s Montanya Distillers, and Denver’s standout early-mover Leopold Bros. comprise this powerhouse group.

The region’s craft brewers are a force of nature, today with over 350 companies shaping a regional beer tsunami. With so much innovation, entrepreneurship, and community-building, it’s at once easy yet incredibly difficult to select three — and only three — finalists for Outstanding Craft Brewery. With an assist from the Colorado Brewers Guild, this year’s finalist group includes Longmont’s iconic Left Hand Brewing Company, Divide’s barrel-aged masters Paradox Beer Company, and the upstart artisans at Broomfield’s 4 Noses Brewing.

The State of Colorado has pegged bioscience as a “key industry” and the Colorado Bioscience Association is one of the region’s accomplished trade and business associations. The industry sector is informed by entrepreneurship and great science but also by manufacturing acumen, and finalists this year for Outstanding Bioscience Manufacturer flash all three. As additive manufacturing transforms how surgeons operate, Littleton’s 3D Systems is on its leading edge, and Allison Medical’s story is as compelling as TOLMAR Inc.‘s cancer-treating innovation. The three companies represent Colorado’s bioscience industry with distinction.

Outdoor industry has crashed the national business scene with the force of an avalanche and Colorado’s OI sector is poised to become an epicenter of product innovation and manufacturing. CO Active Colorado, one of the state’s newest trade associations, selected three finalists overcoming the challenges of domestic manufacturing to make and assemble a generation of high-performance gear using local talent, expertise, and grit. Denver’s Meier Skis, Phunkshun Wear, and Alchemy Bicycle Co. fit the Outstanding Outdoor Industry brand.

Next week, we’ll showcase the remaining five industry associations and category finalists: Outstanding Industrial & Equipment, Consumer & Lifestyle, Energy & Environment, Aerospace, and Small Food brands of the year.

REGISTER for the 2018 Colorado Manufacturing Awards event, but don’t wait: The event will sell out.