Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
Inform us about your company? (objective, partners, areas you run in, primary consumers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all communities, all families, everybody ought to have access. Someone, some entity, needs to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everyone. Thats what my mission is, and luckily we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be announcing some new places this fall
So what can organizations 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 possibility to speak straight with lenders and tax credit syndicators which is spectacular. If there are national corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a huge offer. Were presently working on a collaboration with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our projects. Normalizing exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods deserve investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can potential partners do business with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly searching for partners to invest, use debt or purchase some tax credits, thats the first ask. We are also constantly happy to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. This is not exclusive; its an open book. We host people as soon as a week at our building so they can see the technology that were using in communities that traditionally havent had gain access to. We are also going to be expanding our board. Im constantly difficult leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts since I believe that has real value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been terrific simply to fulfill the other Accelerate member business. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and discovering individuals with completely various point of views. I like the networking.
I believe we are doing the best we can do in the COVID environment. Simply understanding that it exists, which ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a huge difference.
Show us a current success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, totally sustainable and totally economical development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 residential systems, a coffee bar, a service center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What impact 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 important is we have an economic impact that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty effective message. That amount of cash effects the budget of daily households
What difficulties do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning an organization, any business, was going to be tough. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly difficult. When I go to banks and say that were developing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income communities, they take a look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks do not desire to invest; they do not desire to partner; they dont desire to do their share. It is a battle of generational size that Im trying to combat here, and weve made extremely small, incremental development. I believe the lesson is that union building is essential. My voice only implies a lot, however the more I can bring buddies to the table and amplify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the third installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installation features market leaders and subjects 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 business are flourishing in the renewable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a decade of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his competence and track record of producing consistent returns with an individual passion for helping change communities and their impact on the planet. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect on Americas shift 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 begin your business?
I had two essential moments that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas costs, and she was just making 10 bucks an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas costs. A lot of individuals have similar anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
They looked confused that I would even dare ask about the daily people. I believe I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I began my company. I called it 548 Capital since that is the system number in the public housing where I grew up.
I believe there is constantly a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals simply cant think it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly important. We are likewise constantly willing to host individuals 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 technology that were applying in neighborhoods that historically have not had gain access to.