Earlier this year, we worked with The Virginia Chamber of Commerce to help bring their vision for a new data application focusing on economic performance in Virginia to life. They wanted something that would fit within their overall website and serve reliable, timely data that’s easy for everyone to use and easy to share. With insights around performance, transportation and trade, innovation and entrepreneurship and more, their new application allows everyone to find useful and actionable insights within the data. A couple weeks ago, we had a chance to speak with Barry Duval, President and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, to get his insight on the project, how it went and what the feedback has been so far.
1. Tell us a little about the Virginia Chamber’s mission and how you communicate with constituents.
Put simply, we advocate and we communicate. We are the voice of Virginia business. The Virginia Chamber is the largest business association in the Commonwealth, with more than 25,000 members. Our mission is to be the leading non-partisan business advocacy organization that works in the legislative, regulatory, civic and judicial arenas at the state and federal level to be a force for long-term economic growth in the Commonwealth. We communicate with public policy makers, members of the media, and the general public through personal relationships developed over years, traditional earned media, social media, paid media, and widely attended events focused on issues of importance to the business community.
2. What was the problem you were trying to address when you set out to create this application?
Whenever you are advocating for a policy change or demonstrating a problem that needs to be addressed, you need to have trustworthy data to support your position. There are many metrics to measure Virginia’s progress in various policy areas that contribute to economic growth, but public policy makers and business leaders alike have asked us for a single place they can go for reliable, timely data that’s easy to digest and compare with other states and between jurisdictions in Virginia.
3. What were you doing previously to solve that problem? What parts of that approach were not working?
We give presentations around Virginia that visualize certain important economic metrics, and often have requests to receive the PowerPoint presentation for future use and adaptation to a group’s or individual’s needs. We communicate issues such as Virginia’s recent drops in national business and legal climate rankings through op eds, press releases, and traditional media interviews. However, none of those efforts give interested individuals easy access to use the data that our staff is able to compile for their own purposes
4. What appealed to you about working with Juice and Juicebox as a solution?
We saw the work that Juice and Juicebox did for the US Chamber of Commerce on their dashboard, and use it as a frequent resource in the course of our work. They came highly recommended for their responsiveness and expertise in this this area. We wanted to work with a company who not only had the visual and graphic design expertise to create our dashboard, but also the economic understanding to understand how to present complex data in a way that’s easily understandable and simple to navigate.
5. What kind of feedback have you gotten on the application so far and from whom? How has it impacted your conversations with members and stakeholders?
We have not yet launched the dashboard, but when presenting screenshots of the application to executives from other chambers of commerce in Virginia and to the members of our board of directors, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Local and regional chambers have been particularly interested in the ability to compare certain metrics at the regional level. We anticipate a public rollout and demonstration December 2nd at our annual economic summit in Williamsburg.
6. How do you feel this application represents the Virginia Chamber compared to the sites that other chambers have?
We launched a new website last winter to make it easier for our members to access Chamber resources and to reflect a more contemporary feel. The application produced by Juice fits hand in glove with the goal of our website to be useful, intuitive, and attractive for members, potential future members, and for public policy makers to find valuable, trusted information.
7. Have you learned anything interesting through exploring the new application?
The feedback from Juice as we have gone through this process has led us to rethink the way we use some of our data and led us to include new metrics that we otherwise may have overlooked. It has not been simply a process of beautifying the data we were using, but has given us new insight into how we measure progress in the Virginia economy, which benefits our members and adds value to all of the other communication outreach that we do as a Chamber.
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