BankAmerica Corp. awarded $25,000 to a graphics design company that presented the best case for why it needed money. The bank received 150 essays in a contest called "$25,000 for Your Thoughts." To enter, business owners had to have a loan or credit line from the bank as of June 30.

California is one of the most competitive markets in the country for small-business banking and BankAmerica sponsored the contest to drum up publicity about its loan offerings.

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