Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
What can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always important. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a possibility to speak straight with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is incredible. If there are national corporations that can support our work that can also be a big deal. Were presently dealing with a collaboration with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of products to support our tasks. Normalizing exposure, standing beside us and stating “these neighborhoods are deserving of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can prospective partners work with you?
We are likewise constantly ready to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals when a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in communities that historically havent had gain access to. Im always tough top executives to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I believe that has genuine worth
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been excellent simply to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and learning more about individuals with completely different point of views. I like the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Just knowing that it exists, which ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a big difference.
I think there is always a shock when people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant think it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always important. We are also always willing to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people when a week at our building so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally havent had access.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the 3rd installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment features industry leaders and topics related to speeding up an equitable and just transition to a renewable resource economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are growing in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a decade of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and property analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his competence and performance history of developing consistent returns with a personal enthusiasm for assisting change neighborhoods and their influence on the planet. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect on Americas transition 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 start your business?
I had two critical minutes that made me jump. In 1999, my mom got a $400 gas bill, and she was just making 10 bucks an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas bill. Therefore, sadly, we had our gas and heat turned off. For roughly a year in my teens, we had to boil water and carry it as much as a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were uniquely difficult times, and experiences like that just stick with you. I dont care what occurs the rest of your profession or what your quality of life is moving on; those moments are with you permanently. As I speak about that with various groups around the country, it has become clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, whichs not a good thing
The 2nd turning point was most likely 15 years ago, as I was working for a firm that was buying a host of things around the globe. Individuals were can be found in to request for a financial investment around renewable resource, and I posed a concern to them: “What you are making with these solar companies is amazing, and the expense of solar is boiling down, however how does that help everyday people?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their access? They are paying a disproportionate quantity of their earnings on energy.” They looked confused that I would even attempt inquire about the daily individuals. They stated, “Well, you understand, low- and moderate-income households often reside 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 building owners, you have to contact individual families and the expense of getting those individuals informed and after that registering for sustainable energy is not a favorable service model.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the real estate advancement and the solar?” And they stated, whoever does that is going to alter the marketplace forever. I stopped my job. I think I kipped down my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I started my business. I named it 548 Capital since that is the system number in the general public housing where I grew up. Everything is I do is targeted to households in those scenarios and focused on enhancing their quality of life
Inform us about your business? (objective, partners, regions you operate in, main customers, 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 innovations reach everybody.
Share with us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to announce that we will be developing a $30 million, entirely economical and completely sustainable advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 domestic systems, a coffeehouse, an organization center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered use in the city
What effect are you making?
I believe there is constantly a shock when individuals discover who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, individuals just cant believe it.
The other thing that I think is essential is we have a financial effect that resonates with individuals, and its a quite effective message. That quantity of cash effects the budget of daily households
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting an organization, any service, was going to be tough. With that said, access to capital is ungodly difficult. When I go to banks and state that were building sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income communities, they take a look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These communities are still being red-lined. Some banks dont wish to invest; they dont desire to partner; they dont want to do their share. It is a battle of generational size that Im trying to eliminate here, and weve made very little, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that coalition building is necessary. My voice only suggests a lot, but the more I can bring good friends to the table and amplify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement