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 company. Even in our own communities, individuals just cant think it. Putting people in rooms together so everybody can share notes is constantly valuable. We are also constantly willing to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. We host people when a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had gain access to.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the third installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installation features market leaders and subjects associated with accelerating an equitable and simply transition to a sustainable energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member companies are thriving in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a decade of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his expertise and track record of developing constant returns with a personal enthusiasm for assisting change neighborhoods and their influence on the world. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his influence 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 business?
I had two turning points that made me leap. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas costs, and she was just making ten bucks an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas costs. And so, unfortunately, we had our gas and heat turned off. For approximately a year in my teens, we needed to boil water and bring it as much as a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were uniquely difficult times, and experiences like that simply stick with you. I do not care what occurs the rest of your profession or what your lifestyle is progressing; those moments are with you forever. As I talk about that with various groups around the nation, it has ended up being clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A lot of individuals have similar anecdotes, and thats not an advantage
The second pivotal minute was probably 15 years back, as I was working for a firm that was buying a host of things all over the world. Individuals were coming in to request a financial investment around eco-friendly energy, and I positioned a concern to them: “What you are finishing with these solar firms is amazing, and the cost of solar is coming down, but how does that help daily people?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their gain access to? They are paying an out of proportion amount of their income on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even dare ask about the everyday individuals. They said, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income households typically live in multi-family structures, and it is hard to get in contact with those developing owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you have to call specific families and the cost of getting those people informed and after that signing up for renewable resource is not a beneficial organization design.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the housing development and the solar?” And they stated, whoever does that is going to change the marketplace forever. I stopped my task. I believe I kipped down my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I began my business. Because that is the unit number in the public housing where I grew up, I called it 548 Capital. Everything is I do is targeted to households in those situations and focused on enhancing their quality of life

Show us a recent success story.
We recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be building a $30 million, entirely sustainable and totally budget friendly advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 domestic units, a coffee store, 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 neighborhoods, individuals just cant think it.
The other thing that I believe is important is we have a financial impact that resonates with people, and its a quite effective message. That quantity of money effects the budget plan of daily households
What challenges do you face? Why?
When I go to banks and say that were building sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. I believe the lesson is that coalition structure is crucial.

So what can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a chance to speak directly with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is spectacular. If there are nationwide corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a huge offer. Were currently working on a partnership with Lowes, which is contributing about $1,000,000 worth of products to support our jobs. Normalizing exposure, standing next to us and stating “these communities are worthwhile of investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can potential partners do service with you?
Right now, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly trying to find partners to invest, offer financial obligation or purchase some tax credits, thats the very first ask. We are also always happy to host people if they want to see a few of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host individuals as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that historically have not had gain access to. We are also going to be broadening our board. Because I believe that has genuine value, Im constantly challenging leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been fantastic simply to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I discovered a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and finding out about people with totally different viewpoints. I enjoy the networking.
I think we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Simply knowing that it exists, which ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a big distinction.

Inform us about your business? (objective, partners, regions you operate in, main clients, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all communities, all families, everyone needs to have gain access to. Someone, some entity, has to work as the bridge so that those technologies reach everybody. Thats what my mission is, and fortunately we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be revealing some new places this fall