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

Inform us about your company? (objective, partners, regions you run in, main customers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all communities, all families, everybody ought to have access. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the third installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installation features market leaders and subjects associated with speeding up a fair and simply shift to a renewable energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member companies are prospering 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 combine his proficiency and track record of producing 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 tidy economy.
CHECKED OUT 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 two pivotal moments that made me jump. In 1999, my mom got a $400 gas expense, and she was only making ten dollars an hour, so we couldnt afford the gas bill. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, and thats not a good thing
They looked puzzled that I would even dare ask about the everyday people. I believe I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I started my business. I named it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the public housing where I grew up.

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

Show us a current success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be constructing a $30 million, totally affordable and entirely sustainable advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 residential units, a coffee store, an organization center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered use in the city
What effect are you making?
When individuals learn who is behind our business, I think there is constantly a shock. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant think it. To me, thats quite satisfying. Individuals seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is essential is we have a financial impact that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty powerful message. Were intending to cut energy expenses for households in half. Thats a huge offer, you know. That amount of cash impacts the spending plan of everyday families
What difficulties do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were developing sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. I think the lesson is that union building is essential.

What can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in rooms together so everyone can share notes is always valuable. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods are deserving of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can potential partners work with you?
Today, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly looking for partners to invest, provide debt or purchase some tax credits, thats the first ask. We are likewise constantly going to host people if they wish to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host individuals when a week at our building so they can see the technology that were using in communities that historically havent had gain access to. We are also going to be expanding our board. Since I think that has genuine worth, Im constantly challenging top executives to put their name and face on these efforts
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been great just to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and learning about people with completely various viewpoints. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, and that ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a huge distinction.