When trying to change a flight or find a lost bag, most travelers aren't worried about the creature comforts of the customer service agent on the other end of the phone.

Delta Air Lines hopes the renovation of its Chisholm, Minn., call center helps make that interaction a little more Minnesota Nice.

Delta on Thursday commemorated the renovation with a ceremony in Chisholm, an Iron Range city three hours north of the Twin Cities, and details about a hiring spree that will qualify the airline for a $5.9 million government loan to pay for the upgrade.

The company must hire 107 people to the base of 412 workers now at the site under terms of a loan from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, a state agency. The loan will be forgiven if Delta keeps its staffing level above the 107 additions for 12 years and workers receive wages of $22,000 to $48,000 a year plus benefits.

So far, the airline has 13 new workers for the Chisholm center in its 16-week training course. It aims to add another 25 for the next training session, which starts in early November, and 50 more by the end of the year, spokesman Brian Kruse said.

The office, which Delta calls the Iron Range Customer Engagement Center, is one of its smaller call centers in the U.S. But it is also one of the busiest, handling more than 14 million calls per year. Delta operates six other call centers, including one in the Twin Cities. Its largest is in Atlanta, where the airline is based. The airline runs two call centers overseas, in Moscow and Singapore.

The Chisholm center, which was built 20 years ago with another state loan, is the first that Delta has renovated to such a major extent. Cubicles were replaced with desks that rise and lower, allowing staffers to work standing or sitting. Lighting, break areas and conference rooms were all remodeled.

"We may not renovate all call centers to this degree, but some elements may be considered elsewhere," Kruse said.

Kristen Leigh Painter • 612-673-4767