Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.

I believe there is constantly a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant believe it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly important. We are likewise always willing to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. We host individuals as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were using in neighborhoods that historically havent had gain access to.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is happy to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment features industry leaders and topics connected to accelerating an equitable and just shift to a renewable energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are growing in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets specialist with more than a decade of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his proficiency and track record of creating constant returns with an individual enthusiasm for assisting transform neighborhoods and their effect on the world. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect on Americas shift to a clean economy.
LEARNT MORE: Up-and-Comer Developer Makes Headway without the Banks ( Chicago Sun-Times, August 27, 2021).
What inspired you to begin your company?
I had 2 pivotal moments that made me leap. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas expense, and she was only making ten bucks an hour, so we couldnt afford the gas expense. Therefore, sadly, we had our gas and heat shut off. For roughly a year in my teens, we needed to boil water and carry it approximately a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were uniquely difficult times, and experiences like that simply stick to you. I do not care what takes place the rest of your profession or what your quality of life is moving on; those moments are with you forever. As I discuss that with different groups around the nation, it has actually ended up being clear that my experience is not an abnormality. A great deal of people have comparable anecdotes, whichs not a good idea
They looked puzzled that I would even dare ask about the daily individuals. I think I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I started my business. I named it 548 Capital since that is the unit number in the public housing where I grew up.

What can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly valuable. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a possibility to speak straight with lenders and tax credit syndicators which is magnificent. Then, if there are national corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a huge offer. Were currently working on a partnership with Lowes, which is contributing about $1,000,000 worth of products to support our tasks. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing next to us and stating “these communities deserve financial investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can possible partners work with you?
Right now, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly searching for partners to invest, use debt or buy some tax credits, thats the very first ask. We are likewise always ready to host individuals if they wish to see a few of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host people when a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in communities that historically have not had access. We are likewise going to be broadening our board. Due to the fact that I believe that has genuine value, Im constantly tough top executives to put their name and face on these efforts
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been excellent just to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with absolutely different perspectives. I enjoy the networking.
I think we are doing the best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, which ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a big distinction.

Show us a current success story.
We recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be building a $30 million, completely economical and entirely sustainable advancement, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 residential systems, a cafe, an organization center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
I think there is always a shock when individuals discover who lags our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals simply cant believe it. To me, thats pretty gratifying. Individuals seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is important is we have a financial impact that resonates with individuals, and its a quite effective message. That quantity of money impacts the spending plan of daily households
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were constructing sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. I believe the lesson is that coalition building is important.

Inform us about your business? (mission, partners, areas you run in, primary clients, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everybody ought to have gain access to. Somebody, some entity, needs to act as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody. Thats what my mission is, and thankfully we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be revealing some new areas this fall