LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Local businesswomen got their chance Wednesday to mingle and meet with small business owners and bid on contracts with the federal government at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports the “ChallengeHER” event series was launched in early 2013 to help bring more women-owned firms into the federal government’s supply chain and provide an avenue for government agencies to meet qualified women-owned contractors.

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U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet was scheduled to be on hand for the event, which will include workshops on what’s needed to win a government contract as well as what resources might be available locally for small business owners.

Congresswomen Judy Chu and Linda Sanchez along with local partners were also expected to be on hand.

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According to the SBA, the U.S. government awards nearly $100 billion in federal contracts to small businesses every year.

During the first three years of the Obama Administration, the federal government awarded $286.3 billion in federal contract dollars to small businesses — a $32 billion increase over the three preceding years, even as contracting spending overall has declined across the federal government, according to the SBA.

Officials hope that by increasing the number of women-owned small businesses, government contracting officers will have a broader base to consider when making their purchasing decisions.

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The free event for Los Angeles-area women entrepreneurs was being held from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.