Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
Tell us about your company? (objective, partners, areas you run in, primary consumers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all communities, all households, everybody needs to have gain access to. Somebody, some entity, has to function as the bridge so that those innovations reach everyone. Thats what my mission is, and thankfully we are growing. We are presently headquartered in Chicago, but we will be announcing some new locations this fall
So what can organizations 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 an opportunity to speak straight with lenders and tax credit syndicators which is amazing. If there are national corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a big offer. Were currently working on a partnership with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our jobs. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and stating “these communities deserve financial investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can prospective partners work with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly looking for partners to invest, offer debt or purchase some tax credits, thats the very first ask. If they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods, we are likewise constantly ready to host individuals. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host individuals as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had access. We are also going to be broadening our board. Because I think that has genuine worth, Im always tough leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been fantastic just to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with absolutely various perspectives. I love the networking.
I think we are doing the 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.
Share with us a current success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, entirely sustainable and totally budget friendly development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 residential units, a coffeehouse, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered use in the city
What impact are you making?
I believe there is constantly a shock when people learn who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, individuals just cant believe it.
The other thing that I think is essential is we have an economic effect that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty effective message. Were intending to cut utility expenditures for households in half. Thats a huge deal, you know. That amount of money effects the spending plan of daily families
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning an organization, any service, was going to be tough. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly challenging. When I go to banks and say that were constructing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they take a look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These communities are still being red-lined. Some banks do not wish to invest; they dont desire to partner; they dont wish to do their share. It is a battle of generational size that Im attempting to eliminate here, and weve made very little, incremental development. I think the lesson is that coalition structure is very important. My voice only means a lot, however the more I can bring good friends to the table and enhance that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement
I think there is constantly a shock when people discover who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, people simply cant believe it. Putting people in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always important. We are likewise always willing to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people once a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that traditionally have not had access.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the third installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installment includes market leaders and subjects related to 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 thriving in the sustainable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a years of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his expertise and performance history of creating consistent returns with an individual passion for helping 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 influence 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 2 turning points that made me jump. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas costs, and she was just making ten dollars an hour, so we couldnt afford the gas expense. And so, sadly, we had our gas and heat shut down. For roughly 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 distinctively difficult times, and experiences like that just stick with you. I do not care what takes place the rest of your profession or what your quality of life is moving forward; those minutes are with you permanently. As I talk about that with different groups around the country, it has ended up being clear that my experience is not an abnormality. A great deal of individuals have similar anecdotes, and thats not an advantage
They looked confused that I would even attempt ask about the daily individuals. I believe I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I began my company. I named it 548 Capital since that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up.