Plant Chicago helping small businesses create virtual workshops to expand customer base during COVID-19

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As local businesses continue to suffer under the COVID-19 lockdown, one environmental nonprofit in the Back of the Yards neighborhood is helping entrepreneurs create new revenue streams through virtual workshops and online classes.

"What we'll be doing is working with a lot of our small business partners - or individuals, entrepreneurs - that have seen a big hit in their revenue," said Plant Chicago executive director Jonathan Perreira.

"These workshops are going to be highly tailored toward things that people can do at home."

The first two workshops were offered this past Saturday, which focused on container gardening and DIY herbal remedies. All future classes are all listed at Plant Chicago's Eventbrite page.

Over the next few weeks, class topics will range in topics from cooking and beekeeping to bookbinding and aquaponics. Some classes are free, while others range in cost from $15 to $50.

Plant Chicago runs all ticketing, advertising, and streaming for the business.

Paula Martinez - whose family owns and operates the Mexican restaurant Monarca P.L.A.C.E. 7 - believes these workshops can help keep local businesses afloat.

"Plant Chicago has been supporting us. They share ideas on how we can keep the economy within the neighborhood," Martinez said.

Martinez will teach a cooking class with two recipes from the Morelia Michoacan state of Mexico: enchiladas placeras and pambazos.

Irene Acosta, co-owner of the Pochos restaurant in Mckinley Park, will be co-teaching a spicy fried chicken sandwich cooking class. Sales are down over 80 percent, and Acosta was forced to recently lay off her entire staff outside of the three owners.

Between curbside pickup, delivery orders, and these new online classes, Acosta is hoping to eventually "get her team back and continue to serve the community."
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