TCOM Aerostats, Nucor steel plates reach semifinals of 2023 Coolest Things Made in N.C. contest

TCOM Aerostats, Nucor steel plates reach semifinals of 2023 Coolest Things Made in N.C. contest

September 7th, 2023

Products made by a pair of Greater Outer Banks businesses have made it to the semifinals of the North Carolina Chamber’s 2023 Coolest Things Made in N.C. contest.

TCOM’s Aerostat and Nucor Steel’s plates are in separate groups in the medium-to-large business category in round two of the contest that spotlights North Carolina’s cutting-edge manufacturing industry which generates more than 17 percent of the gross state product and employs more than 10 percent of the state’s workforce.

The contest recognizes two winners: one for businesses with fewer than 100 employees, and one for businesses with 100+ employees.

An aerostat floats over TCOM’s facility in Weeksville. [courtesy American Security Today]

Areospace and defense company TCOM produces lighter-than-air tethered aerostat platforms of up to 71 meters long that are “designed to collect information from multiple sensors and interoperate with other aerial and unattended ground radars”.

The main production facility in Weeksville, south of Elizabeth City, is located on 225 acres and includes a 300,000 square foot, 1,000 foot long main hanger that was part of a U.S. Navy airship base during World War II.

TCOM’s fellow competitors includes several nationally known brands and products from major North Carolina corporations.

Steel sheets made at Nucor’s plant in Hertford County.

The largest steel producer in the United States, Charlotte-based Nucor has a plant in Cofield that employees more than 500 workers located on 990 acres along the Chowan River.

Nucor Hertford produces steel plate for uses ranging from railroad tank cars to armored personnel carriers.

Nucor is also going up against several popular tastes of North Carolina.

Bayliss Boatworks of Wanchese and Bertie County Peanuts were also nominated for the competition that celebrates North Carolina’s vital manufacturing community – and champion the next generation of manufacturers and creators by raising awareness about the rewarding careers of modern manufacturing.

Last year, the online contest began with 80 nominees and after three rounds of public voting totaling 46,000 votes, the Caterpillar Cat® track loader and beachBub umbrella system earned the top spots, earning 6,397 and 5,436 votes respectively.

Baxter is serving as the Presenting Sponsor of the online competition, and Business North Carolina is this year’s Media Partner.

As the exclusive North Carolina affiliate for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the NC Chamber knows that a strong manufacturing industry is crucial to the state’s economic and competitive success. The North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP) is collaborating on the annual contest as a Supporting Organization.

How to Vote:

Go to to vote for the coolest thing made in NC. The field of candidates will narrow with each round of voting, and the winning product will be revealed on Thursday, October 5, the day before National Manufacturing (MFG) Day. October is Manufacturing Month, and MFG Day, organized nationally by the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute, highlights the rewarding career opportunities of modern manufacturing.

Join the contest’s social media campaign by following #CoolestThingMadeinNC. In addition to receiving a trophy, the victorious company and product will be featured in NC Chamber and Business North Carolina publications, podcasts, social and digital media, among additional statewide publicity efforts. Information on last year’s winner and runners-up can be found here.

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