Keeping good secrets is key to Alabama landing new businesses

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) --  Top secret.

Right now there are 43 economic development projects in the works in Madison County alone, all of them are being handled behind the scenes and considered highly confidential.

But don't bother asking state and local economic developers for more details about the plans. Their lips are sealed.

Keeping the details of possible big moves like the recent Remington Plant addition and Polaris announcement secret is key to landing those big deals.

Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield says few states have a better reputation of keeping good secrets as Alabama does.

"Alabama has earned the reputation of being a state that companies and site consultants can deal with in a confidential manner," Canfield told WHNT News 19 during a Skype interview Monday.

"Companies don't like dealing with a state they can't trust to keep the deal under wraps and that bodes well for us to continue to see new business development here," Canfield added.

Companies sometimes are in negotiations and planning stages with state and local economic development offices for months or even years, before they agree to a contract. During that time only a select few people are aware of the name of the possible client, and sometimes no one knows who the company is until the final few hours before the deal is signed. And not all of the deals work out, but most people will never even know the talks were going on behind the scenes.

"I have been in relationship that have gone up to a year with a company who we didn't know who they were up until a week before we are ready for the announcement," Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce CEO Chip Cherry says.

The level of secrecy is a must because companies don't want their competitors or even current employees to know what they are planning.

"They want to control the message, the timing and the way the information gets out, so almost always we must sign non disclosure contracts," Cherry added.


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