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

I think there is always a shock when people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people just cant believe it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. We are likewise always willing to host people if they want 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 innovation that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally havent had access.

What can companies 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 important. Through the Accelerate program, weve had an opportunity to speak straight with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is spectacular. Then, if there are national corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a huge deal. Were presently dealing with a collaboration with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our projects. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods deserve financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
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How can prospective partners work with you?
We are likewise constantly willing to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals as soon as a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had access. Im constantly challenging top executives to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I think that has genuine value
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How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been excellent simply to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I discovered a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and learning about people with absolutely various viewpoints. I love the networking.
I think 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.
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Tell us about your business? (mission, partners, regions you operate in, main clients, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everybody ought to have access. Somebody, some entity, needs to function as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone. Thats what my objective is, and fortunately we are growing. We are presently headquartered in Chicago, but we will be announcing some new places this fall
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By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installation includes market leaders and topics associated with accelerating an equitable and just transition to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features 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 specialist with more than a years of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his knowledge and track record of producing consistent returns with a personal passion for assisting transform communities and their effect on the planet. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect on Americas transition 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 begin your company?
I had two pivotal minutes that made me jump. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas expense, and she was only making ten dollars an hour, so we could not pay for the gas expense. And so, regrettably, we had our gas and heat shut down. For approximately a year in my teens, we had to boil water and bring it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively bumpy rides, and experiences like that simply stick with you. I do not care what occurs the rest of your career or what your quality of life is progressing; those moments are with you permanently. As I speak about that with different groups around the nation, it has actually become clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A lot of individuals have comparable anecdotes, and thats not an advantage
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The 2nd essential minute was probably 15 years back, as I was working for a firm that was purchasing a host of things around the globe. Individuals were being available in to ask for an investment around eco-friendly energy, and I positioned a question to them: “What you are doing with these solar companies is spectacular, and the expense of solar is boiling down, however how does that help everyday individuals?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their access? They are paying a disproportionate amount of their income on energy.” They looked confused that I would even dare inquire about the everyday people. They said, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income households frequently reside in multi-family structures, and it is difficult to get in contact with those constructing owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you need to call private families and the cost of getting those individuals educated and after that subscribing to renewable resource is not a beneficial company model.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the housing advancement and the solar?” And they stated, whoever does that is going to change the market permanently. So I stopped my job. I believe I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I started my company. Since that is the unit number in the public real estate where I grew up, I named it 548 Capital. Whatever is I do is targeted to households in those circumstances and focused on enhancing their quality of life
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Show us a current success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, entirely cost effective and totally sustainable development, 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 expand solar-powered use in the city
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What effect are you making?
When individuals discover who is behind our company, I believe there is always a shock. Even in our own neighborhoods, people just cant think it. To me, thats pretty satisfying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is essential is we have an economic effect that resonates with individuals, and its a quite powerful message. Were aiming to cut energy costs for households in half. Thats a huge deal, you know. That amount of money effects the budget of everyday families
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What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
You cant avoid the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a service, any organization, was going to be tough. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly challenging. When I go to banks and state that were building sustainable real estate 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 dont want to invest; they do not wish to partner; they dont desire to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im attempting to eliminate here, and weve made extremely small, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that union structure is necessary. My voice just indicates so much, however the more I can bring pals to the table and enhance that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need
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