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

Tell us about your company? (mission, partners, regions you operate in, main customers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations accessible for all: all communities, all families, everybody should have access. Someone, some entity, needs to function as the bridge so that those technologies reach everybody. Thats what my objective is, and luckily we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be revealing some brand-new locations this fall
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By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the third installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installation features market leaders and subjects associated with speeding up an equitable and simply shift to a renewable energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member companies are growing in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a years of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and property analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his knowledge and performance history of developing constant returns with an individual passion for assisting change neighborhoods and their impact on the world. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect 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 start your business?
I had 2 turning points that made me leap. In 1999, my mom got a $400 gas costs, and she was only making ten dollars an hour, so we could not afford the gas expense. And so, regrettably, we had our gas and heat shut off. For around a year in my teens, we needed 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 dont care what happens the rest of your career or what your quality of life is moving on; those moments are with you permanently. As I discuss that with different groups around the country, it has actually ended up being clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A great deal of people have comparable anecdotes, and thats not an advantage
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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 began my company. I called it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the public housing where I grew up.

I believe there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, individuals just cant believe it. Putting people in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. We are also always willing to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. We host individuals once a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in communities that traditionally havent had access.

Share with us a current success story.
We recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to announce that we will be building a $30 million, entirely sustainable and totally budget friendly development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 domestic systems, a coffee bar, a service center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
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What effect are you making?
I think there is always a shock when people discover who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, people simply cant think it.
The other thing that I believe is essential is we have an economic effect that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty powerful message. Were intending to cut utility expenses for households in half. Thats a huge offer, you understand. That amount of cash effects the budget plan of everyday households
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What challenges do you face? Why?
When I go to banks and say that were developing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These communities are still being red-lined. I think the lesson is that union building is important.

What can organizations 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 always valuable. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a chance to speak directly with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is spectacular. Then, if there are nationwide corporations that can support our work that can also be a huge deal. Were presently dealing with a collaboration with Lowes, which is contributing about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our jobs. Stabilizing exposure, standing next to us and stating “these communities deserve financial investment”– you cant put a worth on that
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How can prospective partners work with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly looking for partners to invest, offer debt or purchase some tax credits, thats the first ask. We are likewise constantly ready to host individuals if they desire to see a few of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host individuals when a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had access. We are likewise going to be broadening our board. Im always challenging magnates to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I think that has real value
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How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been excellent just to fulfill the other Accelerate member business. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and learning about individuals with absolutely different perspectives. I enjoy the networking.
I think we are doing the finest we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, and that ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a huge difference.
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