The Kalahari Convention Center, on Milan Road, has been the venue of the CodeMash convention for 11 years. Hundreds of thousands of computer programmers come to the annual event to see trade shows on different types of software.
“We’re a nonprofit community driven event to help people continue their education around technology and web developers,” CodeMash president Brian Prince said. “It’s really about helping developers get out of their comfort zones and learn some skills outside their everyday work.”
When the convention started in 2007, it maxed out at about 185 attendees. But this year, it has more than 2,500 attendees from across the country and started a program for kids as well. The group chose Kalahari and the area because of the atmosphere.
“We got sick of traveling to Florida and California for a week conference, so we decided to do one closer to where we were from,” Prince said. “It seemed like a fun place to do it. Kalahari has a really nice feel to it and we wanted the atmosphere that would allow people to sit down and have conversations or work on code together.”
As the event grew, so did the positive impact it has on the local economy and hotels. CodeMash uses four hotels, which are filled during a normally slow season.
“They use four other hotels that they fill in weekdays in January when its hard for hotels to fill rooms,” Kalahari general manager Brian Shanle said. “Several million dollars of revenue is brought into this area by the convention.”
The convention started Tuesday and ends Friday, but it will be back at Kalahari next year.