First Financial headquarters to stay in Cincinnati, no Hamilton impact

March 10, 2011

Journal News: By Chelsey Levingston, Staff Writer 12:32 PM Thursday, March 10, 2011

CINCINNATI - The headquarters of First Financial Bancorp will stay in Cincinnati, but its leader says it has no affect on operations in Hamilton.

President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Davis made the announcement today at Cincinnati City Hall that the corporate holding company, formerly based in Hamilton, will make a long-term commitment to maintain its home in Cincinnati.

Davis said Cincinnati is the center of business in Southwest Ohio.

"We want to be part of that," he said.

The corporate operations moved to temporary headquarters under a two-year lease at 201 E. Fourth Street, Cincinnati, at the end of 2009. Part of Thursday's announcement was a 12-year agreement with the city for financial incentives to encourage the investment.

The holding company's subsidiary, First Financial Bank, is headquartered in Hamilton. There will be consolidations from locations other than Butler County to the corporate headquarters, Davis said.

Incentives include a capital grant of $775,000 for an investment of at least $4 million and a reimbursement based on the amount of tax dollars generated by new employees to Cincinnati, according to both groups.

In exchange, First Financial said it's committed to creating 150 net new jobs, which includes jobs created since the original move because the agreement is retroactive to 2010.

There are less than 100 employees in Cincinnati, Davis said.

He was mum on the permanent headquarters location and made no comment if the Fourth Street location is in the running. The details of a long-term lease are finalizing. He said the announcement is planned for the second quarter, which begins in April.Contact this reporter at

(513) 705-2551 or clevingston@coxohio.com.

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