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

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is happy to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installment features industry leaders and topics associated with speeding up an equitable and just shift to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are flourishing in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a years of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and genuine estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his proficiency and performance history of producing constant returns with an individual enthusiasm for helping change neighborhoods 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 shift to a tidy economy.
LEARNT 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 2 turning points that made me leap. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas costs, and she was just making ten dollars an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas costs. And so, unfortunately, we had our gas and heat shut down. For approximately a year in my teenagers, we had to boil water and bring it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively bumpy rides, and experiences like that simply stick to you. I do not care what occurs the rest of your profession or what your lifestyle is moving forward; those moments are with you permanently. As I talk about that with various groups around the nation, it has ended up being clear that my experience is not an abnormality. A great deal of individuals have similar anecdotes, whichs not a good idea
They looked confused that I would even dare ask about the daily individuals. 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 unit number in the public real estate where I grew up.

What can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in rooms together so everybody can share notes is constantly important. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a chance to speak directly with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is amazing. If there are nationwide corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a big offer. Were presently dealing with a partnership with Lowes, which is contributing about $1,000,000 worth of products to support our tasks. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing beside us and stating “these communities deserve financial investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can possible partners work with you?
We are likewise constantly 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 building so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had access. Im always challenging leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts since I think that has genuine worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been excellent just to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I discovered a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and finding out about people with absolutely various viewpoints. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Simply knowing that it exists, and that ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a huge distinction.

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

Show us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, totally economical and entirely sustainable development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 property units, a coffee bar, an organization center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered use in the city
What impact are you making?
I believe there is constantly a shock when individuals learn who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, individuals simply cant believe it.
The other thing that I think is necessary is we have a financial effect that resonates with people, and its a quite effective message. Were aiming to cut utility expenditures for households in half. Thats a huge offer, you know. That amount of cash impacts 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 service, was going to be hard. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly difficult. When I go to banks and state that were building sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks dont want to invest; they do not wish 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 very small, incremental development. I believe the lesson is that coalition building is essential. My voice just suggests a lot, but the more I can bring good friends to the table and enhance that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need

I think there is always a shock when people discover who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, individuals simply cant believe it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly important. We are likewise always prepared to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals as soon as a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were using in neighborhoods that historically havent had gain access to.