BEMIDJI -- Delta Dental is already in the process of commemorating 50 years in operation, but on Monday, the company also celebrated the start of year one in Bemidji.

With a ceremonial "floss cutting," Delta Dental of Minnesota officially opened the doors to its new technology and information center in Bemidji's Technology Park. The ceremony took place in the center of the new 38,000 square-foot structure, which contains 172 work stations on the ground floor.

When speaking about the company's expansion to the city, Greater Bemidji Economic Development Director Dave Hengel said Delta Dental has "done it right."

"It's a stunning building, one your employees will be proud of," Hengel said. "But let me tell you, so are we as a community. It's a reflection of how we do business here. We work together, we partner and collaborate. We do whatever it takes to say yes."

Dave Hengel, executive director of Greater Bemidji, speaks at the grand opening of Delta Dental of Minnesota’s operations and technology center on Monday. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)
Dave Hengel, executive director of Greater Bemidji, speaks at the grand opening of Delta Dental of Minnesota’s operations and technology center on Monday. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

According to Delta Dental officials, the $11 million building is expected to employ 150 staff members in total. Along with call center representatives, the facility will also be home to some of the company's financial staff.

With the amount of employees Delta Dental expects, the company will become a top 10 employer in Bemidji. Because of the economic impact, the project to build the facility was awarded a $1 million loan from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, with $900,000 forgivable.

Based in Minneapolis, Delta Dental of Minnesota is the largest regional provider of dental benefits to small businesses and larger companies. Nationwide, Delta Dental serves more than 4 million members.

While the company is just beginning its business operations in Bemidji, though, Delta Dental has been involved in the community for more than a decade. As part of the ceremony, Northern Dental Access Center's Jeanne Edevold Larson discussed how Delta Dental has been a longtime supporter of the nonprofit.

"Delta Dental and its foundation have been by our side since the early planning days more than 14 years ago," Larson said. "They've been investing in our development and mentoring us in our work. Our recent expansion wouldn't have been possible without the grants from the Delta Dental Foundation."

Bemidji's Technology Park is located on the north side of Bemidji, west of U.S. Highway 71. The area is home to other businesses including Beltrami Electric Cooperative, Paul Bunyan Communications and Pinnacle Marketing Group.