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

Tell us about your business? (objective, partners, areas you operate in, main customers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations available for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everyone should have access. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody.

I believe there is constantly a shock when individuals learn who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant think it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. We are likewise always willing to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people as soon as a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that historically have not had access.

Share with us a current success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to announce that we will be building a $30 million, totally sustainable and completely budget-friendly development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 property systems, a coffee bar, a business 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 always a shock when people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, people just cant believe it.
The other thing that I believe is very important is we have an economic effect that resonates with individuals, and its a quite powerful message. Were aiming to cut utility expenses for families in half. Thats a huge offer, you know. That amount of money impacts the budget plan of daily families
What obstacles do you face? Why?
You cant avoid the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning an organization, any business, was going to be tough. With that said, access to capital is ungodly hard. When I go to banks and state that were building sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they take a look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These communities 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 combat here, and weve made really little, incremental development. I believe the lesson is that coalition building is essential. My voice just implies so much, but the more I can bring good friends to the table and enhance that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need

So what can companies 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 constantly important. Normalizing exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods are deserving of financial investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can potential partners do organization with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are always searching for partners to invest, offer financial obligation or buy some tax credits, thats the very first ask. We are likewise constantly ready to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. This is not exclusive; its an open book. We host people as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had gain access to. We are likewise going to be broadening our board. Because I think that has real worth, Im always difficult leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been excellent just to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with completely various point of views. I love the networking.
I believe we are doing the best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, which ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a big distinction.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo 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 subjects associated with speeding up an equitable and just shift to an eco-friendly energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are growing in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a decade of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his proficiency and performance history of producing consistent returns with an individual enthusiasm for assisting change neighborhoods and their effect 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 clean 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 two turning points that made me leap. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas costs, and she was just making 10 bucks an hour, so we couldnt pay for the gas expense. And so, regrettably, we had our gas and heat turned off. For roughly a year in my teens, we had to boil water and bring it as much as a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were uniquely difficult times, and experiences like that just stick to you. I do not care what happens the rest of your career or what your lifestyle is moving on; those minutes are with you forever. As I talk about that with various groups around the nation, it has become clear that my experience is not an abnormality. A great deal of people have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a good idea
They looked confused that I would even attempt ask about the everyday individuals. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I began my business. I called it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up.