Jonathan Bowser remembers going to the corner store for his grandparents and, on the way, stopping at the homes of six neighbors to see what they needed. His family ties to Steelton date to the early 1900s. The little borough with the big heart “was home to me,” he says. “My family, we were Rollers,” says Bowser. As in Steelton-Highspire High School Rollers, the idolized teams as fierce as the town’s steel-hardened residents. “This is a town that has a lot of pride, especially in sports. It’s a community that’s close-knit, where everyone knew each other.” The Steelton of Bowser’s memory took a hit as Big Steel dwindled. But belief in the borough has never waned. Now, all aspects of Steelton society are calling on their famous pluck to mobilize around a vision of revitalization. The centerpiece is the Steel Works, planned for a largely vacant lot on Front Street. It started with a request for submissions from the Dauphin County Redevelopment Authority, seeking developers interested in buying and rehabbing the site. Bowser stepped up. The managing partner of Integrated Development Partners “always had an itch to come back home.” His involvement put an insider’s stamp on a project meant to show that Steelton still has bootstraps to pull itself up with.
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