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

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installation includes market leaders and topics associated with speeding up an equitable and just transition to a renewable resource economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are flourishing in the sustainable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a years of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and property analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his proficiency and performance history of producing consistent returns with an individual enthusiasm for helping transform neighborhoods and their impact 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 clean economy.
CHECKED 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 2 essential moments 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 expense. Therefore, regrettably, we had our gas and heat shut off. For approximately a year in my teenagers, we had to boil water and bring it approximately a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively bumpy rides, and experiences like that simply stick with you. I dont care what takes place the rest of your career or what your quality of life is moving on; those moments are with you permanently. As I speak about that with different groups around the country, it has actually become clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A great deal of people have similar anecdotes, whichs not an advantage
They looked confused that I would even dare ask about the daily individuals. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I started my company. I named it 548 Capital since that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up.

Inform us about your company? (mission, partners, regions you operate in, main clients, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everybody should have access. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone.

I think there is constantly a shock when people learn who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant think it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everyone can share notes is always important. We are likewise constantly willing 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 traditionally havent had gain access to.

Show us a recent success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be building a $30 million, entirely sustainable and completely inexpensive development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential units, a coffee bar, a company 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 people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, people simply cant think it.
The other thing that I believe is crucial is we have a financial effect that resonates with people, and its a pretty powerful message. Were intending to cut utility expenditures for households in half. Thats a big deal, you understand. That amount of cash impacts the budget of everyday families
What difficulties do you face? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were building sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These communities are still being red-lined. I think the lesson is that coalition building is important.

What can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods are worthwhile of financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can potential partners do company with you?
We are likewise constantly ready to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. We host people once a week at our building so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had access. Im constantly challenging top executives to put their name and face on these efforts because I think that has genuine value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been great simply to fulfill the other Accelerate member business. I found out a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and discovering people with completely various perspectives. I love the networking.
I believe we are doing the very 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 big distinction.