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 clients, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations available for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everybody must have gain access to. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everybody.
I believe there is always a shock when individuals learn who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, people simply cant think it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everybody can share notes is always important. 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 individuals when a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had gain access to.
Show us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be building a $30 million, totally sustainable and entirely cost effective development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 property systems, a coffeehouse, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
I think there is always a shock when individuals learn who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant think it.
The other thing that I think is essential is we have an economic effect that resonates with people, and its a pretty effective message. That quantity of cash effects the budget plan of everyday families
What difficulties do you deal with? Why?
You cant avoid the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning a company, any company, was going to be tough. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly hard. When I go to banks and state that were building sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks dont desire to invest; they do not desire to partner; they do not wish to do their share. It is a battle of generational size that Im trying to eliminate here, and weve made really little, incremental progress. I believe the lesson is that coalition structure is necessary. My voice only means so much, but the more I can bring buddies to the table and magnify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement
So what can companies 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. Through the Accelerate program, weve had an opportunity to speak directly with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is magnificent. Then, if there are nationwide corporations that can support our work that can also be a huge offer. Were currently working on a collaboration with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our jobs. Normalizing direct exposure, standing beside us and stating “these communities deserve investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can potential partners work with you?
Today, we are Chicago-focused. We are always searching for partners to invest, use debt or purchase some tax credits, thats the first ask. If they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods, we are likewise always prepared to host individuals. This is not exclusive; its an open book. We host people as soon as a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that traditionally have not had access. We are also going to be broadening our board. Since I believe that has genuine worth, Im constantly challenging leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been terrific just to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and discovering people with totally different point of views. I love the networking.
I believe we are doing the very 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.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installment includes market leaders and topics related to accelerating a fair and simply shift to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are prospering in the renewable resource 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 property analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his know-how and performance history of developing consistent returns with a personal passion for assisting transform communities and their impact on the world. 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.
READ 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 two critical moments that made me jump. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas costs, and she was only making 10 bucks an hour, so we could not manage the gas expense. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, and thats not an excellent thing
The 2nd turning point was probably 15 years back, as I was working for a firm that was purchasing a host of things around the globe. Individuals were being available in to request for a financial investment around eco-friendly energy, and I posed a concern to them: “What you are making with these solar firms is magnificent, and the cost of solar is coming down, but how does that help everyday individuals?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their access? They are paying an out of proportion amount of their earnings on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even attempt ask about the daily individuals. They said, “Well, you understand, low- and moderate-income families frequently reside in multi-family structures, and it is hard to get in contact with those developing owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you have to call individual households and the cost of getting those individuals educated and after that signing up for renewable resource is not a favorable service model.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the housing advancement and the solar?” And they stated, whoever does that is going to change the marketplace forever. So I quit my job. I think I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that conversation, and I began my business. I called it 548 Capital since that is the unit number in the general public housing where I grew up. So everything is I do is targeted to families in those situations and concentrated on improving their quality of life