Jonathan Bowser will be stepping down as CEO of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp. to join a pair of local partners in a new, private-sector real estate development and consulting business.
Bowser announced Thursday night that he will leave CAEDC, a nonprofit agency partially funded by the county’s hotel tax, as of Aug. 3.
“I am honored to have led such a great organization and to work with great talented people in great communities,” Bowser said in an email. “I look forward to watching and supporting the next phase of CAEDC’s growth. The organization is in great hands and has a very bright future.”
During his six and a half years at CAEDC, the agency has been involved in 67 major projects, Bowser said. That work has generated $725 million of capital investment and 7,800 new jobs for Cumberland County.
CAEDC’s work involves business attraction, providing grants and low-interest loans to new or expanding businesses, and facilitating infrastructure and public works projects.
In 2016, CAEDC formed a subsidiary known as the Real Estate Collaborative, which Bowser also headed. The REC serves as an investment fund that has used public and private dollars to buy unused and less desirable properties in order to turn them around and re-market them.
“As I look back, the projects that were most meaningful to me are the redevelopment of three brownfields in the borough of Carlisle,” Bowser said. “To reuse and redevelop existing sites with new construction is exciting and has been very gratifying.”
Bowser also stressed the need for CAEDC to continue its efforts in workforce development and job skills training.
“That is extremely important work, and getting residents in the region retooled with the skills necessary to bring home a living wage is important and will need to continue to be a focus for the county and region,” Bowser said.
Bowser’s new company will be called Integrated Development Partners, Bowser said, and will be a joint venture with local businessmen Mike Kennedy and Justin Kuhn.
Kennedy is the owner of the Railroad Associates Corp., a railroad design and construction firm. Kennedy also owns and is redeveloping the Allenberry Resort in Monroe Township, as well as the Hampden Terminal property in Camp Hill that houses Cork N’ Fork and Evergrain Brewing.
Kuhn is a principal and engineer at BL Cos., an architecture and engineering firm in Camp Hill.
The company “will focus on real estate development, engineering and land development, and economic development services throughout the region,” Bowser said.
CAEDC Communications Director Kristen Rowe said the process to find Bowser’s replacement would be discussed at next week’s board meeting.
CAEDC is legally owned by the county, and the county commissioners praised Bowser’s tenure.
“Jonathan’s departure will be felt, no question,” Commissioner Jim Hertzler said. “His high-octane energy, expertise and professionalism has been a driving force in moving our county forward to the point where our county is now clearly on the map when it comes to business development and ever-expanding job opportunities for our citizens.”
“We will certainly miss Jonathan, but it’s no surprise to me that he is moving on to other things,” Commissioner Vince DiFilippo said. “CAEDC will continue on and I see them continuing being the first-class organization that they are today.”
“He has taken the organization far in its development during his tenure here,” said Commissioner Gary Eichelberger, who was closely involved in CAEDC’s creation and serves as the commissioners’ liaison to the agency. “Under his leadership, and with the guidance of a stellar CAEDC Board of Directors, we have matured the organization and refined its operations tremendously.”