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Kara Gray

New Horizon Consulting – a model for West Virginia’s self-employed

New Horizon ConsultingThe phrase, “The Power of One,” can be applied to those who have found that West Virginia is a friendly place to set up a small, self-run enterprise while still competing on a global scale. An excellent model is New Horizon Consulting, LLC of Dallas, W.Va., near Wheeling. Being the owner, founder and only employee of the company, Kara Gray is a “one-woman show” as she likes to say.

“I basically provide freelance professional writing, marketing and public relations consulting services for mostly business-to-business communications,” says Gray.

For nearly a decade, Gray has worked with clients in the United States, Canada and Germany, as well as in Israel and China, to provide sought-after public relations services. With such a niche business and wide variety of clientele, Gray could easily locate anywhere in the country or the world. But, working at home — only three miles from where she grew up — she would not have it any other way.

The inherent, positive characteristics of doing business from West Virginia allow New Horizon to be even more competitive.

“My cost of doing business here is much lower than what it would be in a larger metropolitan area,” says Gray, citing advantages such as low utility rates and taxes. “You simply can’t beat it. I have the opportunity to work from home with a very low cost of living and have clients that are literally all over the world.”

Although Gray lives and works in a small town, she still earns compensation comparable to metropolitan areas. With low overhead costs, Gray can earn more in West Virginia than she could elsewhere.

“My fee structure is based more on a national scale, not a small town scale,” says Gray. “That definitely affords some advantages.”

To reach the place she is today, Gray appreciates the help of local, state and federal agencies in West Virginia to assist her in starting her business.

“When I decided to finally get a business license I had no idea what to do. I went to the Small Business Development Center [SBDC] at West Virginia Northern Community College,” says Gray. “Donna [Schramm],” the center’s manager, “walked me through the process of getting a business license and getting my business set up, making sure I had all the paperwork filed with the secretary of state and the tax office.”

Conversely, Gray now holds marketing and public relations workshops for the SBDC and federal Small Business Administration.

Not only can her business flourish in West Virginia, but the lack of big-city hustle and bustle grants Gray the opportunity to have quality family time as well.

“One of the things that I love about the job I have is that I’m home, so it allows me to be more flexible with my schedule when it comes to my children and family and the things I need to do,” says Gray, who lives on 28 acres with her husband and two daughters.

“I can’t imagine living in a place where I can’t let my kids go out in my yard and play,” says Gray. Her kids getting lost in the backyard is on her mind more than worrying about their safety when she is not at home, which she calls a “great problem to have.”

Living a little more rurally contributes to Gray’s view of West Virginia’s best-kept secret.

“There’s so much of a difference in the culture between the northern part where I’m from and Charleston, and you’ve got Parkersburg and the Eastern Panhandle,” says Gray, lending to the possibility of entrepreneurship, both corporate and single-employer, throughout the state.

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