Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
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 always valuable. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a chance to speak straight with lenders and tax credit syndicators which is amazing. If there are national corporations that can support our work that can also be a huge deal. Were presently dealing with a partnership with Lowes, which is contributing about $1,000,000 worth of products to support our tasks. Normalizing exposure, standing beside us and stating “these neighborhoods deserve financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can prospective partners do business with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are always looking for partners to invest, provide financial obligation or purchase some tax credits, thats the first ask. If they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities, we are also always willing to host individuals. This is not exclusive; its an open book. We host people once a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that traditionally havent had access. We are also going to be broadening our board. Im always difficult leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts because I believe that has real value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been fantastic just to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I discovered a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and discovering people with absolutely various viewpoints. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the best we can do in the COVID environment. Just understanding that it exists, which ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a big difference.
Share with us a current success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be building a $30 million, completely affordable and totally sustainable development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential systems, a coffee shop, a company center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
I think there is always a shock when people discover who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, people just cant believe it.
The other thing that I believe is very important is we have an economic effect that resonates with people, and its a pretty effective message. Were intending to cut utility costs for households in half. Thats a huge offer, you know. That amount of cash effects the budget of daily families
What difficulties do you face? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning a company, any business, was going to be hard. With that said, access to capital is ungodly hard. When I go to banks and say that were constructing 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 want to partner; they do not wish to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im trying to eliminate here, and weve made really small, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that union building is very important. My voice just implies so much, but the more I can bring good friends to the table and magnify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo 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 industry leaders and subjects related to speeding up an equitable and just shift 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 finance, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a years of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and property analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his know-how and performance history of creating constant returns with a personal enthusiasm for assisting transform communities and their influence on the world. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his impact on Americas transition to a clean 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 critical moments that made me jump. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas expense, and she was just making ten dollars an hour, so we couldnt pay for the gas expense. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, and thats not an excellent thing
The 2nd turning point was most likely 15 years earlier, as I was working for a firm that was buying a host of things around the world. Individuals were coming in to request an investment around eco-friendly energy, and I presented a concern to them: “What you are finishing with these solar firms is amazing, and the expense of solar is coming down, but how does that assistance everyday people?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their access? They are paying an out of proportion quantity of their earnings on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even dare inquire about the everyday people. They said, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income households often reside in multi-family buildings, and it is tough to get in contact with those developing owners. If you can not get in contact with the structure owners, you have to get in touch with specific households and the cost of getting those individuals informed and after that signing up for eco-friendly energy is not a favorable organization design.” I asked, “What if I owned the housing advancement and the solar?” And they stated, whoever does that is going to alter the market forever. So I stopped my task. I believe I kipped down my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I started my business. Since that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up, I named it 548 Capital. So everything is I do is targeted to households in those circumstances and focused on enhancing their quality of life
I believe there is constantly a shock when individuals discover who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, people just cant believe it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. We are likewise always ready to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. We host individuals when a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that traditionally havent had access.
Tell us about your business? (mission, partners, regions you run in, primary clients, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everyone must have gain access to. Someone, some entity, needs to function as the bridge so that those technologies reach everybody. Thats what my mission is, and thankfully we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be announcing some brand-new areas this fall