Podcast | Following the COVID small-business money

The Working Washington program aimed to get pandemic relief to small and “historically disadvantaged” business owners. Did it?

Cliff “C.J.” Jones wishes football player David Esponda well before his homecoming game

Owner Cliff “C.J.” Jones of C.J.’s Barbershop in Lynnwood wishes football player David Esponda, 16, of Lynnwood well after cutting his hair before his homecoming game on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. Jones was able to secure two Working Washington grants, totaling $20,000, that helped him keep his shop open through the pandemic. (Jason Redmond for Crosscut)

In April 2020, Washington distributed $10 million to businesses navigating the pandemic, the first of many rounds of grant funding delivered by the state.   

The Working Washington grant program was established to get money to small businesses overlooked by federal COVID relief efforts, with officials calling on the Department of Commerce to emphasize “historically disadvantaged” and BIPOC businesses.    

Subscribe to Crosscut Reports on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Podbean.

Crosscut filed records requests for the individual grants, finding large corporate chains among the recipients. 

In this episode, host Maleeha Syed speaks with reporter Brandon Block, who recently published a story on these findings, about where the relief dollars went – and if the state made good on its plan to reach small and historically disadvantaged businesses. 

About the Hosts