BEMIDJI -- The makings of a new chapter in Bemidji’s economic development took shape Monday, as business officials and community leaders broke ground on a new facility for Delta Dental of Minnesota.
When completed in September 2019, the new operations and technology center will house up to 150 employees. The company is expected to be a top 10 employer in Bemidji, with employee wages to range from $15 to $33 per hour, officials said.
“We’ll have a core of service positions here. It will be a customer service center and we’ll also look at some financial billing positions,” said Michael McGuire, senior vice president and chief operations and technology officer for Delta Dental of Minnesota. “We’re also planning to bring in some technology related positions in infrastructure, help desk and portal development.”
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.
Greater Bemidji Economic Development Executive Director Dave Hengel said bringing Delta Dental to Bemidji was a project years in the making.
McGuire said the company chose Bemidji because of the community and the Technology Park area.
“We looked across the state of Minnesota, and Bemidji really stood out because of the economic development happening here,” McGuire said. “We can see the investment happening within the community. We felt that it’s a place we want to be part of. We really saw this space as a great area, with other like-minded companies. We really have come to appreciate what they’ve done here with this Technology Park.”
Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht called Monday’s groundbreaking another affirmation of the city becoming a regional center.
“About 15 years ago, we asked ourselves whether we were going to be a little sleepy college town or a regional center,” she said. “The resounding answer was ‘a regional center.’ This community has been working toward that every day since. We’ve been intentional in this community about seeing ourselves as a regional center. So, we appreciate that you see in Bemidji what we all see here every day.”
The new facility is estimated to cost $11 million. The project was the recipient of a $1 million loan from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development through the Minnesota Investment Fund program. Of that loan, $900,000 will be forgiven because of the economic impact.