As they prepare for Sunday's grand opening of a new store in Canal Winchester, Meijer company officials said they want to be a part of the community.

As they prepare for Sunday's grand opening of a new store in Canal Winchester, Meijer company officials said they want to be a part of the community.

The opening of a Meijer store is a $15-million investment to a community and brings 300-400 jobs, according to Frank Guglielmi, Meijer director of public relations.

The 207,364-square-foot store at 8300 Meijer Drive is one of three new stores replacing older ones in the Columbus and Dayton areas that have already closed or are scheduled to close. It is also the anchor store in a development on 55 acres bounded by Diley Road, Hill Road and Kings Crossing that was originally earmarked for offices.

Mayor Mike Ebert and Canal Winchester Village Council President Rick Deeds both said they anticipate businesses filling the 12 open lots around the new store. Meijer company officials have said the lots will be sold and used for restaurants, banks, a gas station and perhaps a hotel.

"Any time a new business comes to town, it's a good thing," Deeds said.

Councilman Victor Paini, who voted against the store when it was being planned more than two years ago, praised the cooperation of the Meijer staff with village officials and said although he voted against it, he still plans to shop at the new store.

Councilman Bruce Jarvis said the Meijer will be an added convenience to the community, although he said, "It's hard for me to get excited about any larger retailer."

Valerie Cocke, an administrative assistant for the Canal Winchester store, said big companies aren't always accepted in smaller towns, but she said Meijer wants to be part of the community.

"We're not here just for (the opening day)," she said. "We want to be a part of what's going on all the time."

According to its Web site, the Michigan-based company donates 6 percent of its annual net profit to charitable groups.

"We always look for opportunities to work with the community," Guglielmi said. "It's just good business."

Those interested community service assistance need only go to the service desk and ask for a donation application, he said. Once completed, the application goes through the store director and possibly up to the corporate office.

"If someone completes the form, it's not a given," Guglielmi said.

The new Meijer will offer an array of services that older stores don't have. The pharmacy is placed at the front of the building and has a drive-through window. There are also a standalone pet store, a state-of-the-art meat and seafood section, wider aisles and a photo department designed in a partnership with Hewlett-Packard Development Co.

"It's important to bring customers the most up-to-date offerings," Guglielmi said.

According to a press release, Meijer recently formed a partnership with The Nature Conservancy to offer noninvasive plants, trees and shrubs to shoppers.

"This ongoing partnership between Meijer and The Nature Conservancy will hopefully help to reduce some of the damage done by invasive species by giving consumers the information they need to help their local environment," said Helen Taylor, director for the The Nature Conservancy in Michigan.

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com