STEPS Corporate Office
History of STEPS
1976 - The "Tri-County Sheltered Workshop" is founded in Farmville as a satellite program of Lynchburg Sheltered Industries.
1982 - With the cooperation of Lynchburg Sheltered Industries, the Farmville operation forms its own Board of Directors and applies for 501 (c) 3 status. The new organization, The Sheltered Workshop in Farmville, Inc. begins raising funds for a desperately needed new building. The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors applies for a Community Development Block Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development for the construction of an 11,500 square foot facility on 19.2 acres of land donated by the Virginia National Bank.
1990 - Management of the organization changes, as does the name. The new name, Southside Training, Employment and Placement Services, Inc. (STEPS, Inc.), reflects the new purpose of the organization: to provide job training and employment opportunities to people with disabilities. The facility's service area is expanded to include ten (10) counties in Southside Virginia: Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward.
1997 - STEPS is presented with an opportunity to open a facility in Victoria, VA. The Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors offers STEPS a vacant 35,000 square foot manufacturing facility and secures a Community Development Block Grant to renovate the building and make it ADA compliant. STEPS leases the property from the Lunenburg Industrial Development Authority for $1.00 per year. The expansion into Lunenburg is also made possible through grants from the USDA-Rural Business Enterprise Grant Fund and the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services. These grants permit STEPS to purchase automated equipment and are a mechanism to cover start-up costs for the new operation.
1999 - STEPS signs a contract with the local Workforce Investment Board for the provision of Federal Welfare to Work services.
STEPS opens their new office in the 460 West Industrial Park.
2000 - Farmville manufacturing and job training operation relocates into a 73,000 square foot facility in the 460-West Industrial Park. The move to this "new" facility, made possible through collaborative efforts with Prince Edward County, was long overdue as the original facility was cramped and consumer waiting lists were getting long. Once again the Prince Edward Board of Supervisors agrees to apply for a Community Development Block Grant for the purchase and renovation of the property. The Town of Farmville agrees to donate all water and sewer usage for the operation. The new facility provides an excellent environment for manufacturing as it also has a cooling system, which the former facility lacked.
2001 - Mission statement is changed to reflect continued focus of inclusion for all individuals regardless of their physical, mental or economic needs: Our mission is to provide employment opportunities and related services to individuals with diverse abilities in our communities. Following the events of September 11, manufacturing contracts drop off sharply. This change in the economic climate, coupled with decreases in local donations, forces STEPS to vacate the new building and move back to its original facility.
2002 - Economic downturn coupled with reductions in funding to purchase job-training services, forced STEPS into a severe deficit. Commercial sewing continues to be the area of largest production in Farmville. In November, building on the success of our Welfare to Work Grant, STEPS begins working even more closely with the local Departments of Social Services. Through the provision of a "Workplace Supports" contract, STEPS staff provides job training, placement and support services to welfare recipients.
In conjunction with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation STEPS is working to solve transportation problems. We are hopeful that this collaboration will afford the technical assistance and access to funding to create a public transit system in our region.
2004 - In January 2004, President Bush ended the Welfare to Work program.
2006 - On March 20, 2006, STEPS-Farmville re-located back to their larger manufacturing facility, the former Craddock-Terry Building. In May, after four years of research, development and jumps through numerous hoops, STEPS was awarded a federal government contract to produce a fleece jacket designed specifically for the Special Operation Forces. In Summer of 2006, a regional public transportation system began operating in the Counties of Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward Counties. This public transit system, Piedmont Area Transit (PAT), is supported financially by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, allocations from the four Counties being served, a generous donation from STEPS and public fares charged to each rider.