WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Monday, addressed attendees of New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week’s kickoff event, the 2012 Water Challenge. The second annual Water Challenge is a collaborative initiative of The Idea Village and the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) to discover and nurture entrepreneurs working on high-growth ventures in the water industry.

During her remarks, Sen. Landrieu talked about the importance of strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystems and touted last week’s Senate passage of the RESTORE Act, which would dedicate 80 percent of BP penalties paid under the Clean Water Act to Gulf states to restore coastal ecosystems and rebuild local economies damaged by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

“New Orleans will not retreat from our water issues,” Sen. Landrieu said. “We will innovate and prosper. Continuing to learn how to live around water is vital to our future. With the right technology and infrastructure, rather than be threatened by water, we can use it to ensure that our environment can function, our businesses can thrive and that our ecosystems can be sustained for generations to come.”

Following the event, Sen. Landrieu toured the New Orleans BioInnovation Center.

In the upcoming weeks, Sen. Landrieu as Chair of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will lead a series of roundtables to discuss start-ups and economic growth. These discussions will bring together a wide variety of experts who are leading the way in creating entrepreneurial ecosystems. Ultimately, through these discussions, Sen. Landrieu will identify specific ideas and recommendations to be included in a comprehensive piece of legislation.

“Under the leadership of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the City of New Orleans has become one of the nation’s leading entrepreneurial ecosystems,” Sen. Landrieu said. “Forbes ranked the city #1 on the list of ‘America’s Biggest Brain Magnets’ for attracting people younger than 25 with college degrees. Forbes also named New Orleans the #1 Metro for Information Technology Growth in the country. This summit is a great opportunity to understand how New Orleans has been so successful, so that we can work to replicate it throughout Louisiana and across the nation.”