I think there is always a shock when people discover who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, people just cant think it. Putting people in spaces together so everyone can share notes is constantly valuable. We are likewise always ready to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable technology 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 communities 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 pleased to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment includes industry leaders and topics associated with speeding up an equitable and just transition to an eco-friendly energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member business are prospering in the sustainable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a decade of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and property analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his proficiency and performance history of producing constant returns with a personal passion for assisting change neighborhoods and their influence on the planet. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect on Americas transition to a clean economy.
CHECKED OUT MORE: Up-and-Comer Developer Makes Headway without the Banks ( Chicago Sun-Times, August 27, 2021).
What inspired you to start your business?
I had 2 pivotal minutes that made me jump. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas expense, and she was only making 10 bucks an hour, so we could not afford the gas bill. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, and thats not an excellent thing
They looked puzzled that I would even attempt ask about the daily people. I believe I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that conversation, and I began my company. I named it 548 Capital since that is the system number in the public housing where I grew up.
Inform us about your company? (objective, partners, areas you run in, main customers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everyone ought to have gain access to. Someone, some entity, has to function as the bridge so that those technologies reach everybody. Thats what my objective is, and fortunately we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, but we will be revealing some brand-new places this fall
So what can companies 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 always important. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a possibility to speak straight with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is amazing. If there are national corporations that can support our work that can also be a huge deal. Were presently working on a collaboration with Lowes, which is contributing about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our projects. Stabilizing exposure, standing beside us and stating “these neighborhoods are worthwhile of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can possible partners work with you?
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 individuals as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that historically have not had access. Im constantly challenging top executives to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I believe that has genuine value
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been fantastic simply to satisfy the other Accelerate member business. I discovered a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and finding out about people with totally various perspectives. I like 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 intentional about the program, makes a big difference.
Share with us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to announce that we will be developing a $30 million, entirely sustainable and completely cost effective development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 domestic units, a coffee bar, a service center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
When individuals learn who is behind our business, I think there is always a shock. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant believe it. To me, thats pretty satisfying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is important is we have a financial impact that resonates with people, and its a quite effective message. Were aiming to cut energy costs for families in half. Thats a huge offer, you know. That quantity of cash impacts the budget plan of everyday families
What difficulties do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and say that were developing sustainable housing 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 building is crucial.