First Financial to open NKY headquarters, community space

First Financial Bank is opening a Northern Kentucky headquarters that will be similar to its high-profile 4th & Vine Innovation Center space downtown.

Downtown Cincinnati-based First Financial (Nasdaq: FFBC) plans to open the 6th & Madison Innovation Center in Covington late this year. Construction is expected to begin this spring.

The facility features a bank branch that will be First Financial’s first in downtown Covington. But it also serves as a community center. Like the 4th & Vine space that opened in August, Covington’s 6th & Madison space will provide spaces that are open to the public. People from the community can use the open seating areas or two reservable conference rooms. First Financial provides free Wi-Fi and a free coffee bar. The second floor has nearly 1,000 square feet of event space available to the public.

First Financial employees will use office space on the third and fourth floors of the building. The space is in the building at 601 Madison Ave. that houses Donna Salyers’ Fabulous-Bridal store on the ground level.

“Our 6th & Madison Innovation Center will serve as a hub for economic activity as we enable other businesses to expand and bring more jobs to Northern Kentucky,” First Financial CEO Archie Brown said in a news release. “We’re focused on being deeply woven into the community, and this new headquarters site will help us to be an even greater catalyst for growth here.”

The new facility signifies growth in Northern Kentucky for First Financial, too. The bank has just three Northern Kentucky branches. The nearest one is in Edgewood.

But First Financial has been active in lending in downtown Covington and nearby areas along the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky’s urban core. It has provided financing for the development of Hotel Covington, Duveneck Apartments in Covington, John R. Green Lofts in Covington’s Mainstrasse area, the Ovation music venue in Newport, the Manhattan Harbour Apartments in Dayton and Kent Lofts in Bellevue.

“We’re well aware of First Financial’s work supporting development in this region, and its physical presence at Madison Avenue and Sixth Street will further solidify this intersection of Covington as the financial center of Northern Kentucky,” Covington Mayor Joe Meyer said in the release.

First Financial is locating on a busy corner for banks. Huntington National Bank, Republic Bank and U.S. Bank also have offices there.

First Financial is Cincinnati’s second-largest locally based bank. It has $14.5 billion in assets and 145 banking offices in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.