Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
Inform us about your business? (mission, partners, areas you run in, primary clients, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all communities, all families, everyone should have access. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone.
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 important. Through the Accelerate program, weve had an opportunity to speak directly with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is amazing. Then, if there are nationwide corporations that can support our work that can also be a huge deal. Were currently dealing with a collaboration with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of products to support our jobs. Stabilizing exposure, standing next to us and saying “these communities deserve financial investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can prospective partners work with you?
We are also constantly willing to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people once a week at our building so they can see the technology that were using in communities that traditionally havent had gain access to. Im constantly tough leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts since I believe that has real worth
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been great simply to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I discovered a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and discovering people with absolutely different viewpoints. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Just understanding that it exists, and that ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a huge difference.
I think there is always a shock when people discover who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, individuals simply cant believe it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everyone can share notes is always valuable. We are also always ready to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people when a week at our building so they can see the technology that were applying in communities that traditionally have not had gain access to.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installation includes industry leaders and topics related to accelerating a fair and just transition to a renewable resource economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member companies are growing in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a decade of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and real estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his proficiency and track record of developing constant returns with an individual enthusiasm for helping transform communities and their influence on the world. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect on Americas shift to a tidy economy.
FOUND OUT MORE: Up-and-Comer Developer Makes Headway without the Banks ( Chicago Sun-Times, August 27, 2021).
What inspired you to start your company?
I had two critical minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas expense, and she was just making ten dollars an hour, so we could not afford the gas bill. A lot of people have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
The second critical moment was probably 15 years ago, as I was working for a firm that was purchasing a host of things around the world. Individuals were being available in to request for an investment around renewable energy, and I presented a question to them: “What you are finishing with these solar firms is amazing, and the cost of solar is boiling down, however how does that help everyday individuals?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their gain access to? They are paying an out of proportion amount of their earnings on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even dare inquire about the daily individuals. They stated, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income households frequently live in multi-family structures, and it is tough to get in contact with those constructing owners. If you can not get in contact with the structure owners, you need to contact specific households and the expense of getting those people informed and then registering for eco-friendly energy is not a favorable business design.” I asked, “What if I owned the real estate advancement and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to change the marketplace forever. So I stopped my task. I think I kipped down my resignation within 6 months of that conversation, and I began my company. Because that is the unit number in the public housing where I grew up, I named it 548 Capital. Whatever is I do is targeted to households in those situations and focused on enhancing their quality of life
Share with us a current success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be building a $30 million, completely cost effective and completely sustainable development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 property systems, a coffeehouse, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered usage in the city
What effect are you making?
I believe there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals simply cant think it.
The other thing that I think is essential is we have an economic impact that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty powerful message. That quantity of money impacts the budget plan of everyday families
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a service, any company, was going to be challenging. With that said, access to capital is ungodly tough. When I go to banks and say that were building sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These communities are still being red-lined. Some banks do not wish to invest; they do not want to partner; they do not want to do their share. It is a battle of generational size that Im attempting to eliminate here, and weve made extremely small, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that coalition building is necessary. My voice just suggests a lot, but the more I can bring buddies to the table and amplify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need