First Financial focuses on business banking

December 24, 2010

Middletown Journal: By Chelsey Levingston, Staff Writer Updated 2:15 PM Friday, December 24, 2010

HAMILTON - In another strategic move, First Financial Bancorp has zeroed in on business banking as a way to grow by launching a major sales effort this quarter.

Most recently, First Financial has promoted 35 of its associates in Ohio, Indiana and Northern Kentucky to the newly created position of business banking center manager, according to Jill Stanton, First Financial executive vice president and co-chief retail banking officer. Seven of the promotions are of people in Butler and Warren counties, according to Jenny Irey, a spokeswoman for First Financial.

"We have created a new business banking center manager role in key areas within our footprint to provide local businesses with an expert and a direct link to the financial services they need," wrote Stanton in a statement.

Claude Davis, president and chief executive officer of First Financial Bancorp, the parent company of First Financial Bank in Hamilton, last month said as part of its business banking strategy that 45 of its banking centers were selected to also become small-business centers. As part of the efforts, First Financial also launched an Online Business Resource Center, bankatfirst.com/businesscenter, to offer executives tips and tools for business management, according to the company.

Prior to this, First Financial Bancorp announced Dec. 8 moves to shift resources where it will see the most return, closing seven banking centers in Ohio and Indiana by March of next year. The closest branch to be closed is in Colerain Twp. It also plans to exit markets in Michigan and Kentucky.

Third quarter net income was $15.6 million.

Contact this reporter at (513) 705-2551 or clevingston@coxohio.com.

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