First Financial Bank Receives National Small Business Lender Award from U.S. Small Business Administration

April 15, 2010

Cincinnati, OH - April 15, 2010--First Financial Bank was recently named the 2010 Small 7(a) Lender of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

"It's an honor to be recognized by the Small Business Administration," said Claude Davis, First Financial's president and CEO."As the economy begins to turn around and businesses begin to rebuild, we will continue to be a responsible and reliable lending partner for small businesses.

Small business owners play a critical role in our nation's economic growth and we are proud to be able to provide them with smart and sensible lending solutions."The national award is based on First Financial's loan activity and growth as a partner with the Small Business Administration.

"First Financial's hard work, innovative ideas, and dedication to the community makes them the ideal small business lending partner," said Ron Carlson, U.S. Small Business Administration, Cincinnati branch manager. "We are pleased to recognize their achievements and role in driving our nation's economic growth."First Financial Bank will be honored during National Small Business Week taking place in Washington, D.C., May 23 through 25. For more information about First Financial's small business lending solutions, visit or call (877) 322- 9530.


About First Financial Bancorp

First Financial Bancorp is a Cincinnati, Ohio based bank holding company. As of June 30, 2010, the Company had $6.6billion in assets, $4.4 billion in loans, $5.2 billion in deposits and $707 million in shareholders' equity. The Company'ssubsidiary, First Financial Bank, N.A., founded in 1863, provides banking and financial services products through its threelines of business: Commercial, Retail and Wealth Resource Group. The Commercial and Retail units provide traditionalbanking 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 had approximately $2.2billion in assets under management as of June 30, 2010. The Company's strategic operating markets are located in Ohio,Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan where it operates 113 banking centers across 75 communities. Additional informationabout the Company, including its products, services and banking locations is available at