BEMIDJI -- A regional nonprofit company has selected Bemidji for a new $12-to-$13 million development that will create up to 150 jobs.
Delta Dental of Minnesota announced Friday it will break ground in Bemidji for a new operations and technology center. According to a press release, the new center is expected to open by the end of 2019 and the completion will make Delta Dental one of the top 10 employers in the city.
“It will have a broad-based impact on Bemidji,” said Dave Hengel, executive director of Greater Bemidji Economic Development. “When you have that development with 150 jobs, that’s going to have a major impact. Then, there’s also some residual benefits, which include jobs for spouses, as well as access to the Delta Dental Foundation, which is also looking to make an impact in the community they’re apart of.”
The expansion, Delta Dental stated, is a result of recent and projected membership growth, new product offerings and development of technology infrastructure.
Delta Dental of Minnesota is located in Minneapolis and is the largest regional provider of dental benefits to small businesses, as well as larger companies. Nationwide, Delta Dental serves more than 4 million members, according to Delta Dental Vice President of Marketing Sarah Leeth.
Hengel said wages for the center will range from $16 to $30 per hour. Jobs available at the new facility will fall into categories such as administrative services, technology and sales. Additionally, future job openings may include finance, web support and development.
“There will be entry-level and others that are more high-end, such as management and leadership type jobs,” Hengel said. “This will definitely be something that a BSU graduate would be very well positioned for, particularly those with a background in business development, marketing and information technology.”
“I know they’re looking to start staffing so when we open by the end of 2019, we’ll have a number of different team members in different capacities,” Leeth said.
Negotiations are still underway on just where in Bemidji the facility will be, but Leeth said choosing the city itself for the center was a long process with numerous Minnesota communities evaluated.
“They went through a broad process. For a time, the company was anonymous and did an assessment of several regional centers throughout Minnesota,” Hengel said. “Bemidji submitted a blind proposal because we didn’t know what the company was at the time. We shared what we believed to be our assets and what would matter to the company. It earned us a site visit and made them really consider Bemidji in a serious way.”
One of the reasons Hengel said Delta Dental was interested in the community was the fiber optic network in place by Paul Bunyan Communications. Others included access to a talent pool with educational resources and the combined focus on the future by business and community leadership.
In a statement, Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht said she’s excited to welcome Delta Dental to the city.
“We look forward to working with them to facilitate development and make their efforts in Bemidji a success,” Albrecht said. “This announcement truly shows our commitment to attracting employers and new residents to Bemidji.”
“This also solidifies and reinforces the fact that we have become the state’s emerging regional center,” Hengel said. “I think it’s important that our economy diversifies, as it keeps us from having those ups and downs of a single industry. I think we’re becoming increasingly diversified. It positions Bemidji well.”