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, primary customers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all communities, all families, everybody ought to have gain access to. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone.
Show us a current success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to announce that we will be developing a $30 million, totally sustainable and totally budget friendly advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential units, a cafe, an organization center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered use in the city
What impact are you making?
I think there is always a shock when individuals learn who lags our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant believe it. To me, thats quite satisfying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is crucial is we have a financial effect that resonates with individuals, and its a quite effective message. That amount of cash impacts the budget plan of everyday households
What obstacles do you face? Why?
When I go to banks and say that were constructing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. I believe the lesson is that coalition building is important.
What can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always important. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these communities are worthwhile of financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can prospective partners work with you?
We are also always willing to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people once a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that historically have not had access. Im always challenging leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts because I believe that has real value
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been great just to satisfy the other Accelerate member business. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with completely different perspectives. I like the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Just understanding that it exists, which ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a big difference.
I think there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant believe it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everyone can share notes is always important. We are also always prepared to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in communities that traditionally have not had access.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image 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 series.
Each installation includes industry leaders and subjects connected to accelerating a fair and just transition to a sustainable energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are thriving in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets specialist 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 combine his knowledge and performance history of creating constant returns with an individual passion for helping change neighborhoods and their influence on the planet. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect 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 business?
I had two pivotal moments that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas costs, and she was only making ten bucks an hour, so we could not manage the gas bill. Therefore, unfortunately, we had our gas and heat shut off. For approximately a year in my teens, we needed to boil water and bring it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were uniquely difficult times, and experiences like that simply stick to you. I do not care what takes place the rest of your career or what your lifestyle is progressing; those minutes are with you permanently. As I discuss that with different groups around the nation, it has actually become clear that my experience is not an abnormality. A great deal of individuals have similar anecdotes, whichs not an excellent thing
The 2nd critical moment was probably 15 years back, as I was working for a company that was buying a host of things around the world. Individuals were can be found in to request for an investment around renewable resource, and I presented a question to them: “What you are making with these solar companies is magnificent, and the expense of solar is coming down, but how does that help daily 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 dare ask about the daily people. They stated, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income families 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 get in touch with individual households and the expense of getting those people educated and after that signing up for renewable resource is not a beneficial company design.” I asked, “What if I owned the housing development and the solar?” And they stated, whoever does that is going to change the market permanently. I stopped my task. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I started my business. Since that is the system number in the public housing where I grew up, I named it 548 Capital. So whatever is I do is targeted to families in those scenarios and concentrated on improving their quality of life