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During his first  week in office, Senator Warner went on the road  to hear from students and small business owners who have been affected by the  economic downturn.

At a roundtable discussion at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Senator Warner heard from more than two-dozen college students, small business owners and others  who are struggling with  college loans, a tight job market, mortgage pressures, declining company profits and other economic concerns.

Check out this video from the roundtable discussion:

Jeff Schapiro from the Richmond Times-Dispatch profiled some of the participants, and filed this report:

Jennifer Witten of Fredericksburg, a graduate student of pharmacology at Virginia Commonwealth University, said interest on her loans -- 7 percent -- is twice what she paid as an undergraduate.

"It's like a mortgage on my education," said Witten, who -- along with VCU dental student Frank Henrich -- wondered why rates on student loans aren't falling as those on mortgages are.

Frequently gesticulating and roaming the room, Warner said the Obama package is a work in progress that could pump millions into Virginia for transportation and public works. "We've got to grab the economy and give it a jolt," said Warner. ...

Sharon Madere, who heads the Midlothian pet-products business she started, said uncertainty over tax rates is an obstacle to job creation. Her firm recently cut payroll by 10 percent, trimming it to 85 workers.