DC Influencer: Sen. Mary Landrieu, Louisiana

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) spoke to Jaimy Lee about her agenda for small businesses and how celebrities can aid in natural disaster recovery

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) spoke to Jaimy Lee about her agenda for small businesses and how celebrities can aid in natural disaster recovery.

Along with healthcare, what are some of the top issues for small businesses you hope to address this year?

Landrieu: Our top issue now is and needs to remain jobs, jobs, and more jobs for Americans. Most of those jobs are going to be created by small businesses and there are barriers to that job creation now.

One of them is lack of capital. One of them is just a general sluggish market and priming the pump to create consumer demand, as well as opening up capital to opportunities for these small businesses to grow.

Given your support for Haiti, as well as other natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, how are you communicating the need for continued support for such events?

Landrieu: There are many reasons why the US should be engaged in helping Haiti recover. It's a small country where if enough of us step up and really focus our efforts, we could make a huge, lasting difference for the people of Haiti.

This also gives us an opportunity to really put into practice some of our best thinking about disaster recovery - how to build better and smarter.

What are some of the primary ways to keep the messages about Haiti in the news, especially with the larger policy issues at stake?

Landrieu: Some of it will be what Congress will generate but, to be honest, keeping the flame lit is going to be the work of artists, musicians, Hollywood types, celebrities, as well as hard work on the part of some news agencies.

Just like Katrina, it might have fallen out of the headlines in Washington, but it was kept alive by wonderful leaders such as Harry Connick Jr., Wynton Marsalis, and Anderson Cooper. People who had just enough status and power, separate from government, to continue to keep the light shining. It's going to be the same thing with Haiti.

What role can the private sector and industry play in recovery?

Landrieu: Part of rebuilding a country or a community after a disaster is a piece that the government must do, but a big part of that has to be done by the private sector. I hope the recovery will be one that calls on the strength and abilities of the Haitian people themselves.

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