First Financial Continues to Invest in Northwest Indiana Investment totals more than $4 million in Northwest Indiana communities

June 17, 2010

HIGHLAND, Ind. June 17, 2010-Continuing its ongoing investment in and focus on the Northwest Indiana region, First Financial Bank begins the first of two major construction projects in the Highland area this week.

"The fast-growing communities in Northwest Indiana make it an ideal area for us to invest in," said Jill Barath Wyman, First Financial executive vice president and co-chief retail banking officer. "We're eager to expand to continue helping our clients on their path to success, and we look forward to being a part of this region for years to come.

Since 2008, First Financial has invested more than $4 million in new and enhanced facilities across Northwest Indiana.  This includes a brand new prototype banking center in Crown Point, significant improvements to the Schererville banking center and the two new projects starting in Highland this week.

June 14 marked day one of construction as crews began working on the interior of the 45th Street banking center, located at 2750 45th Street.  Design upgrades include an open and accessible floor plan, new teller lines, comfortable furniture, bright colors, and engaging merchandising graphics.  Crews will also renovate the ten lane drive-thru, including the two full-service drive-thru ATMs.

"There's no question that Northwest Indiana is very important to us. As we grow, we're committed to investing in the area to continue building strong, long-term relationships with our clients, local businesses and the community," said David Harvey First Financial's Northern Indiana regional president. "From building new energy-efficient banking centers to refreshing existing buildings, what we're doing here is a key part of our overall corporate strategy to enhance the high-quality service, innovative banking solutions and expert financial advice that our clients depend on."   The Downtown Highland banking center, located at 2611 Highway Avenue, is part two of the renovation project and construction is slated to begin this fall.  The exterior of the building will undergo a facelift.  Crews will remove the existing archways enhancing the overall look and feel of the banking center.  Similar interior design enhancements will be made to the Downtown Highland location, including an open floor plan, new teller lines, bright colors and engaging merchandising graphics. The upgrades will allow associates to serve clients faster, more efficiently and to maintain the personal relationships clients enjoy with their banking center representatives.

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About First Financial Bancorp

First Financial Bancorp is a Cincinnati, Ohio based bank holding company with $6.6 billion in assets.  The Company's subsidiary, First Financial Bank, N.A., founded in 1863, provides banking and financial services products through its three lines of business: Commercial, Retail and Wealth Resource Group.  The Commercial and Retail units provide traditional banking services to business and consumer clients and the Wealth Resource Group provides financial planning, investment management, trust & estate, brokerage, insurance and retirement plan services and has approximately $2.3 billion in assets under management.  The Company's strategic operating markets are located in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan where it operates 115 banking centers across 75 communities.  Additional information about the Company, including its products, services and banking locations is available at www.bankatfirst.com.