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 company. Even in our own communities, people just cant think it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. We are also constantly ready 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 building so they can see the innovation that were applying in neighborhoods that traditionally havent had access.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo courtesy of 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 features industry leaders and topics related to speeding up a fair and simply shift to a renewable resource economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member business are growing in the sustainable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a decade of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his expertise and track record of developing consistent returns with an individual passion for helping transform neighborhoods and their influence 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.
LEARNT 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 minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas bill, and she was only making ten dollars an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas bill. And so, sadly, we had our gas and heat turned off. For approximately a year in my teens, we needed to boil water and carry it as much as a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were uniquely difficult times, and experiences like that simply stick to you. I dont care what takes place the rest of your career or what your lifestyle is progressing; those moments are with you forever. As I discuss that with various groups around the nation, it has ended up being clear that my experience is not an abnormality. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, whichs not a good thing
They looked puzzled that I would even dare ask about the everyday people. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I started my business. I named it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up.

Share with us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be building a $30 million, entirely economical and entirely sustainable development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 domestic systems, a coffeehouse, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered usage in the city
What effect are you making?
I believe there is constantly a shock when people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant think it. To me, thats quite gratifying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is essential is we have a financial impact that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty powerful message. Were aiming to cut utility costs for families in half. Thats a big offer, you know. That amount of cash impacts the budget plan of everyday families
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were developing sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These communities are still being red-lined. I think the lesson is that union structure is essential.

What can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in rooms together so everybody can share notes is constantly important. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a possibility to speak directly with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is incredible. Then, if there are nationwide corporations that can support our work that can also be a big deal. Were currently working on a partnership with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of products to support our jobs. Stabilizing exposure, standing next to us and stating “these neighborhoods deserve investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can possible partners do service with you?
Right now, we are Chicago-focused. We are always searching for partners to invest, offer financial obligation or buy some tax credits, thats the very first ask. If they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods, we are likewise constantly willing to host people. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host people as soon as a week at our building so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally havent had access. We are also going to be expanding our board. Im constantly tough magnates to put their name and face on these efforts since I think that has real worth
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been fantastic just to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and finding out about people with totally different viewpoints. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, and that ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a huge difference.

Tell us about your company? (mission, partners, regions you run in, primary clients, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations available for all: all communities, all families, everyone needs to have gain access to. Someone, some entity, has to function as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone. Thats what my mission is, and luckily we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be announcing some brand-new areas this fall