When we started in 1983 we wanted to build more than just an office block, business park or commercial property.
We wanted to build a community of businesses where companies could start, grow and lean on each other in a supportive environment.
Unlike other landlords, we use what profit we have to offer additional services at competitive prices to help businesses in Central Scotland grow.
Once a thriving carpet factory, the John Player Building nearly didn’t make it through World War 2. A German bomber dropped a landmine, just missing the factory and hitting the old King’s Park football ground.
In 1983, a chapter of industrial history ended as John Player & Sons cigarette factory, originally opened in 1953, closed its doors in Stirling. A year later, the building was handed over to the Central Region Industry and Business Park Trust Ltd and Stirling Enterprise Park (STEP) was formed. The site was then officially opened on 25th January 1985 by Mr David Murray.
One of the first of its kind, STEP’s goal was to ‘help grow the environment for growth and enterprise in Stirling’. Offering low-cost business premises, with the unique concept of offering free Business Support services, the opening of the site attracted royalty.
In 1990, with the Park at full capacity of 81 thriving businesses, STEP, in partnership with Stirling Enterprise Economic Development Company (SEEDCO), set out to open the city centre ‘Stirling Business Centre’, SBC Ltd, with 47 modern office spaces. Demand was so high that the site was 75% full on the opening day in June 1991. Due to continuing demand for business premises, in 1996, STEP opened Enterprise House, a third site of office space, yet again the demand was so high that the site was full within eight months of opening its doors.
In 2000 Small Business Gateway, or Business Gateway as we know it today, was introduced by Scottish Enterprise, which recognised the growth potential in providing Business Support services to SME’s Scotland-wide. A consortium made up of STEP, Falkirk Enterprise Action Trust and Clackmannanshire Enterprise won the first three-year contract to deliver Business Support in the area. STEP continues its business counselling service under the new name of Business Gateway, and still does today, eighteen years later.
In the millennium, SME’s were finding their business growth restricted, due to a lack of IT and digital skills, so STEP opened a training centre dedicated to increasing digital business skills. The STEP Business Education Centre IT suites trained in all things IT and digital, from getting to know your hardware, to software skills and advanced techniques.
Today STEP remains as one of the largest business landlords in Stirling, offering flexible, low-cost property for SME’s with the added benefit of Business Support.
In February 2016 Business Gateway launched Digital Boost to support businesses looking to improve their digital knowledge. This replaced STEP’s need for a Digital Academy and all digital training is now offered through the Digital Boost programme.
In Spring 2018 renovation of the STEP building at the new Kildean Business and Enterprise Hub, formerly the Kildean Hospital, was completed. The site offers affordable rent and flexible leases to start-up or small businesses. Once again, this size of offices was highly popular with nine out of twelve offices being filled on opening.
From the industrial revolution to the introduction of the Internet, the Euro, GDPR and now Brexit, STEP has always been the ‘go-to’ organisation in Stirling for SME’s to start, grow and overcome any business challenge.