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

I believe there is constantly a shock when people discover who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals simply cant think it. Putting people in rooms together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. We are also always ready to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people when a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were using in neighborhoods that historically have not had gain access to.

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 installment includes market leaders and subjects associated with accelerating an equitable and simply shift to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member business are prospering in the renewable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets expert 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 competence and performance history of producing constant returns with a personal passion for assisting transform communities and their effect on the world. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his influence on Americas transition to a tidy economy.
READ 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 two turning points that made me jump. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas costs, and she was only making ten bucks an hour, so we could not pay for the gas expense. Therefore, unfortunately, we had our gas and heat turned off. For approximately a year in my teens, we had to boil water and bring it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively bumpy rides, and experiences like that just stick to you. I dont care what occurs the rest of your career or what your quality of life is moving forward; those minutes are with you permanently. As I discuss that with different groups around the country, it has actually become clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A great deal of individuals have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a good idea
The 2nd turning point was probably 15 years ago, as I was working for a firm that was investing in a host of things all over the world. People were can be found in to request a financial investment around renewable energy, and I postured a concern to them: “What you are finishing with these solar companies is magnificent, and the cost of solar is coming down, however how does that aid everyday people?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their access? They are paying an out of proportion quantity of their earnings on energy.” They looked confused that I would even dare inquire about the daily people. They stated, “Well, you understand, low- and moderate-income families frequently reside in multi-family structures, and it is difficult to get in contact with those developing owners. If you can not get in contact with the structure owners, you have to contact specific households and the cost of getting those individuals informed and then subscribing to renewable resource is not a beneficial company design.” I asked, “What if I owned the real estate advancement and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to alter the marketplace permanently. So I quit my task. I think I kipped down my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I began my company. I named it 548 Capital because that is the unit number in the general public housing where I matured. Whatever is I do is targeted to families in those circumstances and focused on enhancing their quality of life

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 constantly valuable. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods are deserving of investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can prospective partners do organization with you?
We are likewise always ready to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. We host people when a week at our building so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that historically have not had gain access to. Im always challenging top executives to put their name and face on these efforts because I think that has real value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been excellent simply to fulfill the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and discovering about people with absolutely various perspectives. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the finest we can do in the COVID environment. Simply knowing that it exists, which ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a huge distinction.

Show us a recent success story.
We recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to announce that we will be developing a $30 million, entirely budget friendly and completely sustainable development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential units, a coffee bar, a company center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered use in the city
What effect are you making?
I think there is always a shock when people discover who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant believe it.
The other thing that I believe is very important is we have an economic effect that resonates with people, and its a quite powerful message. Were intending to cut energy expenses for households in half. Thats a big deal, you know. That quantity of money effects the budget of everyday families
What challenges do you deal with? Why?
You cant avoid the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning 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 housing 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 desire to invest; they do not want to partner; they do not wish to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im trying to eliminate here, and weve made really small, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that union building is crucial. My voice only means so much, however the more I can bring good friends to the table and amplify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement

Inform us about your business? (mission, partners, regions you operate in, main consumers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all communities, all households, everybody should have gain access to. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone.