TULSA, Okla. – Osage businesswoman Margo Gray-Proctor believes working with fellow Native American businesses and tribes is a way of giving back because “economic development is the next phase of tribal sovereignty.”
Gray-Proctor, who is president of New Horizon Enterprises LLC, oversees three Tulsa-based businesses and is passionate about working with other Native people. “When we practice Native-to-Native (business affairs), it’s building and strengthening Indian Country,” she said.
New Horizon Enterprises is made up of Horizon Engineering Services Co., which Proctor-Gray founded in 1998 with her business partner Carl Cannizzaro; a drug testing and background check division for both Native and non-Native companies; and New Horizon Entertainment LLC, which partners with another company to bring IMAX theaters to Native enterprises across the country.
Gray-Proctor, 51, said 75 percent of her companies’ 17-member work force is Native American. She calls those working to bring economic development to Indian Country “economic warriors.”
Gray-Proctor is the sister of Principal Chief Jim Gray. She worked in law enforcement for 17 years before moving into the business sector.
Gray-Proctor has won recognition by several organizations. In March, she was named chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, a nonprofit organization that helps Native enterprises and tribes with business and economic development.
The Journal Record selected Gray-Proctor as one of the Oklahoma City publication’s “50 Making a Difference.” The recognition is for Oklahoma women, one of whom will be named “Woman of the Year” in October.
One other recognition landed Gray-Proctor in a social studies textbook for elementary school. She appears on the same page with other notable Oklahomans, including former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller.
Gray-Proctor’s companies have worked with tribes and Native-owned businesses nationwide, including 20 percent of the casinos in Oklahoma. Among the Oklahoma tribes she’s worked with are the Cherokee, Eastern Shawnee and Otoe-Missouria. Gray-Proctor said Osage Nation officials were considering a contract for infrastructure work to be performed by Horizon’s engineering company. No decision has been made yet.
Cherrah Quiett, director of operations for Horizon, said the company’s drug testing firm works with 16 companies. She said the company is also working to bring IMAX theaters to tribally affiliated enterprises in Oklahoma with a focus on the Tulsa area.
Horizon Engineering Services Co. provides civil engineering consultations and designs for major developments such as casinos, hotels, hospitals, airports and infrastructure.
Gray-Proctor said one recent Horizon contract involves a project by the Yavapai-Apache Nation. The northern Arizona tribe hired Horizon Engineering Services to design its Middle Verde District Master Plan, which includes its tribal government and tourist operations.
“I love coming to work,” Gray-Proctor said of her job that has her visiting many tribal communities and learning about their culture. “I beat out the national competition (to bid for Native-affiliated jobs) because I build relationships with (the people).”