Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
So what can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly valuable. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a possibility to speak directly with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is incredible. If there are nationwide corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a huge offer. Were currently working on a collaboration with Lowes, which is contributing about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our jobs. Normalizing direct exposure, standing beside us and saying “these communities are deserving of investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can potential partners work with you?
We are likewise always prepared to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people when a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had gain access to. Im always challenging leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts since I think that has real worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been terrific simply to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and finding out about people with completely various point of views. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, which ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a huge distinction.
I believe there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, people just cant think it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly important. We are also always willing to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. We host people as soon as a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were applying in neighborhoods that traditionally havent had access.
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 installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installation includes industry leaders and topics associated with accelerating a fair and simply shift to a renewable energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are growing in the renewable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a years of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and property analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his expertise and performance history of producing consistent returns with a personal passion for assisting 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 influence on Americas shift 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 business?
I had 2 essential minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas bill, and she was only making ten bucks an hour, so we could not afford the gas expense. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, and thats not a good thing
The second critical moment was probably 15 years earlier, as I was working for a company that was purchasing a host of things worldwide. Individuals were can be found in to ask for an investment around renewable resource, and I positioned a question to them: “What you are doing with these solar firms is magnificent, and the cost of solar is coming down, however how does that assistance everyday people?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their access? They are paying an out of proportion amount of their income on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even attempt inquire about the everyday people. They stated, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income households frequently live in multi-family structures, and it is tough to get in contact with those developing owners. If you can not get in contact with the structure owners, you need to contact specific families and the cost of getting those individuals educated and then subscribing to renewable energy is not a favorable company model.” I asked, “What if I owned the real estate development and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to alter the market forever. So I quit my job. I believe I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I started my company. Because that is the system number in the public housing where I grew up, I called it 548 Capital. So whatever is I do is targeted to households in those circumstances and focused on improving their quality of life
Inform us about your company? (objective, partners, regions you operate in, primary clients, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all communities, all families, everybody ought to have access. Someone, some entity, has to work 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 revealing some new places this fall
Show us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, totally inexpensive and totally sustainable development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential 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 think there is constantly a shock when people learn who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, individuals simply cant think it. To me, thats quite satisfying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is crucial is we have an economic effect that resonates with individuals, and its a quite powerful message. That quantity of cash impacts the budget of daily families
What difficulties do you deal with? Why?
You cant avoid the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning a company, any service, was going to be challenging. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly tough. 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 neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks do not wish to invest; they dont want to partner; they dont want to do their share. It is a battle of generational size that Im attempting to combat here, and weve made really small, incremental progress. I believe the lesson is that union structure is crucial. My voice only indicates so much, however the more I can bring good friends to the table and enhance that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need