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

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture 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 features market leaders and topics connected to accelerating an equitable and simply transition to an eco-friendly energy economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member companies are flourishing in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a decade of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and real estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his proficiency and track record of producing consistent returns with an individual enthusiasm for assisting transform neighborhoods and their influence 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 tidy economy.
FOUND 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 minutes that made me jump. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas bill, and she was only making 10 dollars an hour, so we couldnt pay for the gas costs. Therefore, unfortunately, we had our gas and heat shut down. For approximately a year in my teens, we needed to boil water and carry it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively tough times, and experiences like that just stick to you. I dont care what happens the rest of your career or what your quality of life is moving forward; those moments are with you permanently. As I speak about that with different groups around the nation, it has ended up being clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A great deal of people have similar anecdotes, whichs 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 discussion, and I started my business. I named it 548 Capital since that is the unit number in the public housing where I grew up.

Show us a current success story.
We recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be building a $30 million, totally affordable and completely sustainable advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 domestic systems, a coffee bar, a service center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered usage in the city
What effect are you making?
When people learn who is behind our business, I think there is always a shock. Even in our own communities, people simply cant believe it. To me, thats quite gratifying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is essential is we have an economic effect that resonates with people, and its a quite powerful message. Were aiming to cut utility expenses for families in half. Thats a huge offer, you know. That quantity of cash effects the spending plan of everyday households
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were developing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These communities are still being red-lined. I believe the lesson is that coalition structure is crucial.

So what can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in rooms together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and stating “these communities are worthwhile of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can possible partners do organization with you?
Right now, we are Chicago-focused. We are always trying to find partners to invest, use financial obligation or buy some tax credits, thats the very first ask. If they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods, we are likewise always ready to host individuals. This is not exclusive; its an open book. We host individuals when a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that traditionally havent had gain access to. We are likewise going to be broadening our board. Due to the fact that I think that has genuine worth, Im constantly difficult leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been terrific simply to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I discovered a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and learning more about individuals with totally different point of views. I enjoy the networking.
I think we are doing the best we can do in the COVID environment. Just understanding that it exists, and that ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a huge difference.

Tell us about your company? (objective, partners, areas you operate in, main consumers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everybody should have gain access to. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody.

I think there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant think it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. We are likewise always ready to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were using in neighborhoods that historically havent had access.