CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - We told you how a group of investors is betting $20 million on downtown Cape Girardeau.
Plans include a Courtyard by Marriott in the old H&H building and re-purposing the Marquette. That is just the beginning.
The investors also have plans for what they call the Marquette Tech District. The plans are big, outside the box and, if successful, could make Cape Girardeau a technology hub.
Dr. James Stapleton is a co-founder of Codefi. He said Cape Girardeau has potential that has yet to be realized.
"We think Cape is well-positioned," Stapleton said. "There is a lot going on. Lots of momentum downtown the last couple of years."
You can look to Codefi has a model of what the investors have in mind for the Marquette Tech District. Inside, is a bright, open work space. There are several people working separately on their computers but in a collaborative way. They can help each other, even if working on separate projects.
What you won't find is stuff offices or bland cubicles. You won't find a dress code, either. But you will find pets. Two or three dogs sit patiently on their owners laps as they type away.
Stapleton said this is the work space of the future; and, part of the plan for the Marquette Tech District is more places like Codefi.
"As a result of this project," Stapleton said. "We could see 200 to 300 people now spending time downtown as part of a new tech sector."
The plan involves a new fiber optic WiFi network of super fast gigabit Internet. Planners hope that will attract more tech businesses downtown and those businesses will attract the tech savvy workers needed to fill them.
Since tech workers want to eat and live near where they work, the ambitious plans also include new restaurants and bars downtown as well. Stapleton and the other investors hope that leads to coffee shops, cafes, shops and, eventually, more places for people to live downtown.
"When tech workers are done for the day, they want to go hang out," Stapleton said.
He said they want it to be close by. They don't want to have to drive anywhere.
The gigabit internet alone is a big deal. You can't attract tech companies without access to WiFi and that will also mean free public WiFi in the downtown area.
How soon will all this begin?
Stapleton said work on the high speed WiFi has already started. He said the timeline for all the other things is "aggressive."
Get a good look at the current downtown Cape Girardeau area. Looks like it will soon be changing.