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October is National Manufacturing Month, but in Iowa and Illinois it should be celebrated and recognized every month, if not every day. Unfortunately it is not. That’s why we appreciate what the Illinois Manufacturers Association (IMA) and the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) do this time of year to help put the spotlight on the most important industry to both states. The IMA did a “Makers on the Move” bus tour through the state to celebrate manufacturing month, stopping in the Quad Cities at Midwest Ale Works in East Moline on Oct. 9 and Parr Instrument Company in Moline on Oct. 10. And ABI hosted its annual Manufacturing Conference in Ankeny, Iowa, earlier this month. The “Makers on the Move” bus tour featured a fully wrapped, 56-foot bus that traveled to nearly every region of Illinois. According to the IMA, Illinois’ manufacturing industry generates between $580 billion and $611 billion in economic investment every year. It’s the largest share of any industry to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Manufacturing directly employs 662,298 workers but ultimately supports as many as 1,771,928 jobs, generating up to $150 billion in labor income for Illinois residents annually. In all, it’s estimated that the manufacturing industry supports nearly 30% of all jobs in Illinois, making it among the state’s largest industry sectors. Iowa’s manufacturing industry has a similarly impressive economic importance. According to the Iowa Economic Development Authority, advanced manufacturing is Iowa’s largest industry, accounting for 18.2% of the state’s total GDP. Iowa’s 4,100 manufacturers produce everything from food products and medical devices to aerospace products and construction machinery.