Keeping secrets paid off for Troy, Pike County

Published 10:08 am Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sometimes when you tell a secret to your best friend, you don’t feel like you’ve really told anything. Not one of your own secrets, of course, but someone else’s.

At least that’s the way I’ve been most of my life.

When someone told me a secret that I just needed to let out, I’d just tell my best friend that I knew I could trust. Of course, I’d only do it with those things that I thought wouldn’t be so bad if it got around, just in case she decided she couldn’t keep her mouth shut, either.

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I think that’s how a lot of people probably are. And that’s probably why things get spread.

“Don’t tell anyone I told you, but …” is just the beginning to some of the best and worst kept secrets around.

I believe Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. coined that phrase recently, referring to Troy’s newest industrial announcement — CGI truly was the best and worst kept secret in town.

Three months ago, many Troy residents knew something was brewing in the city’s economic development pot. Most just didn’t know exactly what it was.

A month into it, whispers were making their way to the streets of Troy. “Do you know what business is coming?”

“I heard there were going to be 500 jobs.”

People heard several different things, and as a newspaper reporter, they wanted to check their facts with me. (Don’t worry CGI, I kept my mouth shut this time).

By the time Sept. 25 rolled around, most knew something about CGI’s move to Troy — even if they didn’t know the name.

But what probably still remains a secret to most is the work that went into CGI’s recruitment.

It wasn’t the talk about town that first clued me into the fact that something was going on. It was how busy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford and those in the economic development office became.

“I’ve got five minutes to answer your questions,” the mayor would say.

They’d be out of town or in a meeting almost every time I needed to talk. And, since I don’t talk to them all that often, it was an indicator of the work they were putting in.

“Feel free to send me an e-mail,” Pike County’s Economic Development Corporation President Marsha Gaylard told me once. “I’m on the computer until midnight most of these days anyway.”

But, 75 days after they started, that work paid off and will continue to pay off for Troy, Pike County and the state of Alabama for years to come.

CGI won’t by itself restore the local economy, but it sure won’t hinder the process.

Bringing at least 300 jobs to the city will hopefully help some of our residents without work make their way into a steady job, give Troy University graduates a chance to make Pike County their home and even bring some new faces to town.

It will bring types of jobs that are rarities in the city of Troy. It will truly be, as Lunsford said, “the missing link.”

Let’s not forget the attraction that Troy University had on the industry. The vision of Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr., the hard work of Senior Vice Chancellor John Schmidt and the genius behind Greg Price’s IT Department combined surely made a lasting impression.

I can’t name everyone who worked so hard to bring CGI to Troy — those who brought Troy to the top of a highly-competitive list of potential locations. That’s because I just don’t know them all.

But to you, who worked long hours, who sacrificed personal time and who cared enough about Pike County, thanks.

Holli Keaton is news editor of The Messenger. She can be reached via e-mail at