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

Inform us about your company? (mission, partners, regions you run in, primary consumers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations available for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everyone ought to have gain access to. Somebody, some entity, has to function as the bridge so that those technologies reach everybody. Thats what my mission is, and luckily we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, but we will be revealing some new areas this fall

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installment features market leaders and subjects related to speeding up a fair and just 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 flourishing in the eco-friendly energy 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 real estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his know-how and track record of developing constant returns with an individual enthusiasm for helping change neighborhoods and their effect on the world. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his impact on Americas shift to a tidy 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 2 pivotal moments that made me leap. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas bill, and she was just making 10 dollars an hour, so we could not afford the gas costs. A lot of people have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
The second pivotal minute was probably 15 years earlier, as I was working for a firm that was investing in a host of things around the world. Individuals were can be found in to request for a financial investment around eco-friendly energy, and I postured a concern to them: “What you are finishing with these solar companies is spectacular, and the cost of solar is boiling 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 income on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even attempt inquire about the everyday people. They said, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income households frequently live in multi-family buildings, and it is hard to get in contact with those constructing owners. If you can not get in contact with the structure owners, you need to call specific families and the expense of getting those individuals educated and then subscribing to sustainable energy is not a favorable organization model.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the real estate advancement and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to change the market forever. So I quit my task. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I began my business. I named it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the public real estate where I matured. So whatever is I do is targeted to families in those scenarios and concentrated on improving their lifestyle

Show us a recent success story.
We recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to announce that we will be constructing a $30 million, totally budget-friendly and entirely sustainable development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 residential units, a coffeehouse, an organization center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered use in the city
What impact are you making?
When people discover who is behind our company, I think there is constantly a shock. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant think it. To me, thats quite rewarding. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is very important is we have a financial effect that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty powerful message. Were aiming to cut utility costs for households in half. Thats a big deal, you know. That amount of cash effects the budget of everyday families
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were constructing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These communities are still being red-lined. I think the lesson is that coalition structure is important.

I believe there is constantly a shock when individuals learn who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, people simply cant think it. Putting people in rooms together so everyone can share notes is always valuable. We are likewise constantly willing to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals when a week at our building so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had access.

So what can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and stating “these neighborhoods are worthy of investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can possible partners do company with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly trying to find partners to invest, offer debt or buy some tax credits, thats the very first ask. If they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods, we are likewise always willing to host people. 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 applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had gain access to. We are also going to be expanding our board. Because I believe that has real worth, Im constantly challenging top 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 business. I found out a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and learning more about people with completely various point of views. I like the networking.
I think we are doing the finest we can do in the COVID environment. Just knowing that it exists, and that ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a big distinction.