In the beginning, the project was called “Doris.” As in, “We have been in conversation with architects for project Doris” or “Doris will not be confirming or discussing anything with the press until a lease is signed.”

Records obtained by the Star Tribune show that, as in other cities where Amazon.com Inc. has built distribution centers, its plans to set up shop in Shakopee hinged on secrecy. In the earliest stages of choosing a community, Amazon has previously kept its identity hidden while working through an agency like the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

In Kenosha, Wis., the site of Amazon’s newest distribution center, a developer worked as the liaison between the city and the company. Still, officials figured it out.

“It was the worst-kept secret in the world,” said Kenosha City Administrator Frank Pacetti.

The same seems to have been true in Shakopee. In related e-mails, mentions of the Amazon project dated to 2013, but discussions among city and state officials pick up in late 2014. Early references generally stuck to the “Doris” code name, but the occasional “Amazon” slipped through.

“Feeling just sick about the A word (Doris) being mentioned,” Economic Development Coordinator Samantha DiMaggio wrote in a March 12 text message to then-Interim City Administrator Kris Wilson.

Amazon had insisted from the get-go that the project move forward quickly and quietly, according to the documents.

“The company has made it VERY clear that the name of the company is not to be used or shared with anybody or it may jeopardize the project,” Stacy Crakes, a Scott County staff member, wrote in a March 2 e-mail.

A month prior, DEED Director of Business Development John Shoffner passed along a nondisclosure agreement to regional economic development officials, Scott County and the city of Shakopee. By Feb. 25, Amazon had received the signed forms and was planning a visit to Minnesota the following day.

“Act surprised when you find out who it is!” Shoffner wrote.