A Corporate Responsibility App Inspired by ‘As Goes Janesville’

Inspired by the Independent Lens film As Goes Janesville, the BizVizz app serves as the transmedia component of the documentary, enlightening users how specific companies behave when it comes to corporate and social responsibility.

There’s a scene in As Goes Janesville (airing tonight on Independent Lens), towards the end, where the city council votes to approve a $9 million incentive package for Shine Medical Technologies. Shine is a startup looking for a town in which to set up their medical isotope operation and, like many companies, it is compelling cities to compete with offers. Though Janesville is desperate for jobs after losing their GM plant, $9 million is 20% of their budget. This is the scene that inspired BizVizz, our corporate accountability app.

Companies claim to be job creators and to contribute to our economy, but how do we judge their claims? BizVizz makes their records visible by putting the metrics of corporate citizenship in the hands of ordinary people. Allowing you to see shareable tax data, jobs data, and other financial information hidden in regulatory documents, BizVizz turns you into a smart, conscious consumer.


Using BizVizz to help plan a party - Teresa

I’m in the midst of planning a party for the up coming weekend. Aside from making sure the invites were out on time, about every other detail has been saved for some type of last minute rush. After all, the best parties seem to be the ones getting thrown together last minute. I will say though, I have the time to take a seat and use a new app that I was recently introduced to. 
 is an app that was inspired by the making of a documentary film called As Goes Janesville. This app collects and allows you to see tax data, jobs data and some other financial info you wouldn’t normally get the chance to overview. I have tried thinking of ways to use this app that would be more proactive, than just searching for companies I’m familiar with and giving the “ohhhh” “ahhhh” responses as I see results. So, my goal with taking the time to use it on my laptop before I went off to work was to compare results from different grocery stores that I had the option of shopping at. Here Goes: 

I am a lover of healthy choices so I would need some healthier options. Whole Foods was my first go to pick. Surprisingly unlike most in the whole sale and retail industry Whole Foods was equally represented by both republican and democratic campaign contributions. I liked this idea. According to the data their payed tax rate is above average. Kroger, an industry competitor, doesn’t do such a hot job in this dept. Being raised on much of what the Kroger brand has to offer, I will say that I am supportive of their brand. You really can’t beat their prices. Unfortunately their payed tax rate is almost 8% below the industry average. This is already 5% below the federal tax rate. Not the best news from a company that I spent most of my life using. Trader Joe’s is another option worth exploring, except for the fact that they are privately owned so their info won’t be found in this app. 

A side note that I couldn’t help but notice was the towering list of other companies in the same industry represented by a color coded bar, telling you where they stood in reference to payed tax rates. Companies like Insight Enterprises are in first place for how small their tax rate is. I don’t know much about Insight Enterprises, but I did see companies I do purchase from frequently. being one of them, hitting a womping 2nd place and Macy’s hitting 5th. I think next time I want to go on a girls shopping trip I’m going to have to hit up BIzVizz and do a little more research. 

To check out BizVizz you can click here. Download the app so you can have BizVizz on the go. 

WORT Interview with Brad Lichtenstein

There are a lot of things I found moving about As Goes Janesville. Lots of stuff that got me excited, made me mad, things I love in a really good movie. As Goes Janesville depicts a political and cultural moment  that continues to affects us. It’s such a powerful use of art: to bear witness, to help an audience infer meaning on events and understand their place in them.

It’s critical that this documentary follows women in that moment. It’s set against the backdrop of a patriarchal system, issues of government and money, but it’s unique in that Brad Lichtenstein, the filmmaker, deliberately chose to tell the story through women’s perspectives. It isn’t the story of egos and fortunes damaged and rebuilt, it’s about families finding ways to support each other, to live through change that is beyond their control.

It’s not just an important story, it’s a story told in an important way. 

- Sara Caron is an Artist living and working in Milwaukee and a 371Productions intern.

Listen to an interview with Brad Lichtenstein on WORT as he discusses As Goes Janesville and the app BizVizz the film inspired.