Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
Inform us about your company? (mission, partners, regions you run in, primary clients, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations available for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everybody should have gain access to. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone. Thats what my mission is, and luckily we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, but we will be announcing some new places this fall
I think there is always a shock when people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant believe it. Putting people in rooms together so everybody can share notes is always important. We are likewise always ready to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people as soon as a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had access.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installation features industry leaders and topics associated with accelerating a fair and just transition to an eco-friendly energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are prospering in the eco-friendly energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a decade of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and genuine estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his expertise and performance history of developing constant returns with a personal passion for helping transform neighborhoods and their influence on the world. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his influence on Americas transition to a clean economy.
READ 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 pivotal moments that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas costs, and she was only making 10 dollars an hour, so we couldnt pay for the gas expense. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, and thats not a good thing
They looked confused that I would even attempt ask about the everyday people. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I began my company. I called it 548 Capital since that is the unit number in the public real estate where I grew up.
Show us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, completely sustainable and completely economical development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 domestic systems, a cafe, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What effect are you making?
I think there is always a shock when individuals learn who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, individuals just cant believe it.
The other thing that I believe is essential is we have an economic impact that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty powerful message. That quantity of cash effects the budget of everyday families
What challenges do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were building sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These communities are still being red-lined. I believe the lesson is that coalition building is crucial.
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 constantly important. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a chance to speak directly with lenders and tax credit syndicators which is magnificent. If there are nationwide corporations that can support our work that can also be a big deal. Were presently working on a collaboration with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of products to support our jobs. Normalizing direct exposure, standing beside us and stating “these neighborhoods deserve investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can prospective partners do service with you?
Right now, we are Chicago-focused. We are always searching for partners to invest, use debt or buy some tax credits, thats the very first ask. We are also constantly willing to host individuals if they wish to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host individuals once a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that historically have not had access. We are likewise going to be expanding our board. Im always challenging leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I believe that has real worth
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been excellent simply to meet the other Accelerate member business. I learned a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and finding out about people with completely various point of views. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, which ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a huge distinction.