BEMIDJI-With construction of the new Delta Dental operations and technology center expected to be completed in a few months, the benefit provider is now planning to build its staff.

The effort will get underway Thursday, as Delta Dental will have a booth at the Bemidji Regional Hiring Event at the Sanford Center.

Gretchen Knutson, associate vice president of the company's Bemidji operation, said the Delta Dental will have a presence throughout the event from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

"What we're going to be looking for are individuals who have skills and training in supervisory roles or in quality assurance," Knutson said. "Those are the positions we're immediately filling and who we're looking for specifically on Thursday. However, if anyone is interested in talking to us about customer service roles we will be hiring for, we'll be open to doing that, as well. We just won't be hiring for those until this summer."

The $11 million Delta Dental facility is on track for completion in September and the company is expected to create 150 new jobs in its first year. With a staff of 150, Delta Dental will be a top 10 employer in the community.

"About 80 to 85 percent of the positions will be in the customer service function," Knutson said. "They'll be taking inbound calls from our providers, members, brokers and administrators. The other 15 percent will be our leadership."

Along with Thursday's event, Knutson said Delta Dental is in the process of identifying sites for its own job fairs this summer, with dates likely in May, June and August. The job fairs, Knutson said, will include both meeting individuals and conducting interviews.

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, company officials say.

The project to build the Bemidji facility was the recipient of a $1 million loan from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development through the Minnesota Investment Fund. Of the loan, $900,000 will be forgiven because of the economic impact.

Delta Dental's 38,000 square-foot facility is going in Technology Park, an area of Bemidji west of U.S. Highway 71 and north of Anne Street.

If you go

What: Bemidji Regional Hiring Event

When: 4:30 to 7 p.m., Thursday, April 11

Where: Sanford Center