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Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
  • Kent Economic Partnership holds annual award presentation

  • Three local businesses were recognized April 3, honoring persons and companies that help keep Kent County's economy humming.
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  • Members of the Kent Economic Partnership held their annual dinner and awards presentation Wednesday night, honoring persons and companies that help keep Kent County's economy on the move.
    The honorees included William H. Willis, president of the Willis Automotive Group, Byler's Stores and Kraft Foods of Dover.
    It was an evening, noted WBOC-TV Vice President and General Manager Craig Jahelka, where one could imagine purchasing a new car at a Willis dealership and then using it to drive to a Byler's store in order to buy products made by Kraft Foods.
    The Kent Economic Partnership is a not-for-profit economic development organization that serves all of Kent County, said the Partnerships Board Secretary Rose Wurzel.
    The Partnership holds a dinner each year to recognize individuals, local corporations and small businesses that symbolize a strong commitment to economic development and to Kent County, Wurzel said.
    William H. Willis, president of the Willis Automotive Group, was recognized for his continued efforts to improve the employment situation in Kent County through expansion of his automotive dealerships. Willis has continued to add to his business in recent years, despite the poor economy.
    Byler's Stores was recognized for the company's small business spirit, exemplified by its continued growth and expansion since the business was founded by Joe and Amanda Byler in 1974. Byler began by selling groceries from his back porch, later expanding to his woodworking shop and then to the current building on Del. Route 8 and a newly established store in Harrington. The company employs approximately 150 people.
    Kraft Foods came to Dover in 1964 with the consolidation of four other locations. At one time it was known for its chocolate production, and the aroma of chocolate coming from the plant is a fond memory for many Kent County residents. Today the plant occupies 121 acres in Dover, and the company recently announced it is bringing its unsweetened Kool-Aid business back to the city.

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