CORNELIUS – One of the South’s most successful grocery store chains will soon have its footprint on the lake area.

Publix announced on Aug. 23 its intent to open seven stores in the state, including a 49,000-square-foot supermarket at West Catawba Avenue and Jetton Road in Magnolia Plaza.

The grocery store is slated to open in late 2014. Publix spokesperson Maria Brous said that date could change, pending permits, construction and weather.

Locally, Publix will join the ranks of Walmart, BI-LO, Earth Fare, Food Lion, Target, Aldi and Harris Teeter, whose shareholders vote Oct. 3 to accept a $2.5-billion merger with Kroger.

The new Publix in Cornelius will include a drive-thru pharmacy, but there are other ways in which the company plans to distinguish itself from competitors, Brous said.

“We’re known for our focus on customer service, and we’ll have an opportunity to serve customers looking for a great shopping experience,” she said.

Brous also highlighted Publix’s community involvement. Florida-based Publix has worked with Loaves and Fishes as well as community-driven education organizations and civic groups in its other locations, including South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee.

“We believe in giving back to our communities,” she said.

Publix’s first location in the state will be in Ballantyne at Providence Road West and Johnston Road early next year. One store will follow in Winston-Salem, along with one each in Cary and Asheville and two others in Charlotte. The North Carolina locations will join the 1,072 stores already in business.

Demand for Publix stores in North Carolina eventually drew the company to the state.

“North Carolina is our most asked-about location from customers and associates,” Brous said.

The company chose Cornelius after its real estate committee and cross-functional team determined the area to be a good setting.

Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Ryan McDaniels agreed.

“This project will provide an anchor tenant for the redevelopment of an important retail center in Cornelius,” he said. “The redeveloped retail center will also add non-residential tax base to Cornelius and Mecklenburg County.”

Magnolia Plaza’s redesign also improves connectivity to Jetton Road, McDaniels added.

Brous said Publix looks forward to opening stores in the state, with further expansion a possibility.

“We’re excited to get started and see what the communities think,” she said.