LITTLE ROCK — A meeting between state officials and representatives from the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma to discuss an Indian site near the planned $1.1 billion Big River Steel mill is set for this week but will not be open to the public, a spokesman for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission said Monday.
The site was discovered recently as Mississippi County officials were preparing for construction of the the plant near Osceola.
"There was either a small settlement … or some artifacts," AEDC spokesman Joe Holmes said Monday.
Big River Steel has said the plant it proposes to build in Mississippi County will employ more than 2,000 workers during construction, and more than 500 permanent workers with pay averaging $70,000 a year. The Legislature earlier this year approved a $125 million bond issue to help fund the project.
The Mississippi County Quorum Court also approved a $14 million incentive package for the project.
Holmes said AEDC Director Grant Tennille, Cliff Chitwood, president of the Great River Economic Development in Mississippi County and the state archaeologist will meet with officials with the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma on Wednesday in Osceola.
Commission members will not attend the meeting, Holmes said, adding the meeting does not fall under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
"There’s nothing in the law that requires it to be open," Holmes said. "This is not a meeting of a board or commissioners. From our standpoint this is Grant Tennille doing his job. … This is one of the many processes you have to do to get this deal."
The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act states that it does not apply to "site files and records maintained by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and the Arkansas Archeological Survey."