Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
What can organizations 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 always important. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a possibility to speak straight with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is magnificent. Then, if there are national corporations that can support our work that can also be a huge deal. Were currently working on a partnership with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of products to support our tasks. Normalizing direct exposure, standing beside us and stating “these communities are deserving of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can possible partners work with you?
Right now, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly looking for partners to invest, offer financial obligation or buy some tax credits, thats the first ask. If they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities, we are likewise always willing to host people. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host people as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had gain access to. We are also going to be expanding our board. Im always challenging magnates to put their name and face on these efforts because I think that has real worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been excellent just to meet the other Accelerate member business. I learned a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and discovering individuals with totally different perspectives. I enjoy the networking.
I think we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Simply understanding that it exists, which ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a huge distinction.
I think there is constantly a shock when individuals discover who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant believe it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly important. We are also constantly prepared to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals once a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in neighborhoods that historically have not had access.
Share with us a current success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, completely cost effective and completely sustainable advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 domestic systems, a coffee shop, a service center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered usage in the city
What effect are you making?
I think there is constantly a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals simply cant think it.
The other thing that I think is important is we have an economic effect that resonates with people, and its a quite powerful message. Were aiming to cut utility costs for families in half. Thats a huge deal, you understand. That quantity of money impacts the budget plan of everyday families
What difficulties do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a company, any service, was going to be difficult. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly hard. When I go to banks and state that were constructing 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. Some banks dont wish to invest; they dont wish to partner; they dont wish to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im attempting to eliminate here, and weve made very little, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that union building is necessary. My voice only means a lot, but the more I can bring pals to the table and magnify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is happy to share the 3rd installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installation includes market leaders and topics connected to accelerating a fair and simply transition to a renewable energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are growing in the sustainable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets specialist with more than a decade of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his expertise and performance history of developing consistent returns with a personal enthusiasm for assisting transform neighborhoods and their effect on the planet. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his impact 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 start your company?
I had 2 pivotal moments that made me jump. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas costs, and she was just making ten bucks an hour, so we couldnt pay for the gas costs. A lot of individuals have similar anecdotes, and thats not an excellent thing
The second critical moment was most likely 15 years back, as I was working for a company that was purchasing a host of things around the globe. People were coming in to request for an investment around renewable resource, and I posed a question to them: “What you are doing with these solar companies is magnificent, and the expense of solar is boiling down, however how does that help everyday people?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their gain access to? They are paying a disproportionate amount of their earnings on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even attempt inquire about the everyday people. They said, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income households often reside in multi-family structures, and it is tough to get in contact with those constructing owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you have to get in touch with private families and the expense of getting those individuals educated and after that signing up for renewable resource is not a beneficial company model.” I asked, “What if I owned the housing advancement and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to alter the market permanently. I quit my job. I believe I kipped down my resignation within 6 months of that conversation, and I started my company. Since that is the unit number in the public real estate where I grew up, I named it 548 Capital. So whatever is I do is targeted to families in those circumstances and focused on improving their lifestyle
Tell us about your company? (objective, partners, areas you run in, primary customers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everyone needs to have access. Someone, some entity, has to act as the bridge so that those innovations reach everyone. Thats what my objective is, and fortunately we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be announcing some brand-new places this fall