TechWeek is exciting time for entrepreneurship

This week the Marquette Building is displaying its illustrious past and high-tech present and future as the hub of TechWeek, which is currently in full swing and will reach a crescendo with Techfest on Thursday.

The second edition of the TechWeek, hosted by the Marquette Tech District, carries an air of optimism, excitement and vision, attributes which helped spark the renovation of the Marquette Hotel, originally opened in 1928 but stood as a condemned building at the start of the millennium.

With an infusion from local investors, the building, listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 2004, is now ground zero in the Marquette Tech District in Cape Girardeau. One of its primary tenants is Codefi, which is attracting innovative entrepreneurs from around the globe.

Codefi occupies two floors and currently houses 80 businesses and a total of 200 individual members, providing the technological equipment, space and amenities to incubate ideas and grow businesses.

TechWeek is for both entrepreneurs and the masses. It includes Youth Code Camps, where children in grades three to six can learn basics of coding and robotics. For adults, a 36-hour Hackathon competition will be waged to help resolve technological problems encountered by the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, with $5,000 in prizes up for grabs. On an even bigger front, a 1st50K Startup Competition will be held, featuring entrepreneurs representing 20 countries competing for $100,000 in cash and services. The winner will occupy one of the Codefi office spaces for a year, providing future job possibilities for the region.

The week allows for plenty of networking and opportunities to gain start-up insight. A fireside chat with Collen Jenkins, founder of PluggedIN and CoderGirl, will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. tonight and is free. Past 1st50K start-up winners, Edible Education and Impress, will be part of a panel discussion, free and open to the public from 9 to 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Techfest carries the glitz, a social event that will showcase the ongoing progress for the downtown tech hub. The event, from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, will include a gourmet bar, wine and craft beer, hors d'oeuvres by 36 Restaurant and music on the scenic rooftop by the band Slim Chance. It will be an opportunity for attendees to meet the 1st50 finalists and kid coders.

There will be a brief program, the announcement of finalists, and the flipping of the switch that will provide the much-anticipated free public Wi-Fi in the Marquette Tech District, which includes Main Street and Spanish Street.

"It's a fun celebration for everyone and a great chance to support the tech community," said Heather Holdman, a Codefi founder. "It's a great night, and if you haven't been to it, I tell everyone they need to experience it."

More information about the festivities can be found online at marquettetech.com/techweek.

This is an exciting time for Cape, and more specifically, an exciting week.