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

Tell us about your business? (mission, partners, regions you operate in, primary clients, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations available for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everybody must have gain access to. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everybody.

Share with us a current success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to announce that we will be developing a $30 million, entirely sustainable and completely inexpensive development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 residential systems, a coffeehouse, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
I believe there is constantly a shock when people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant believe it.
The other thing that I think is important is we have an economic effect that resonates with individuals, and its a quite effective message. That amount of cash impacts the spending plan of daily households
What obstacles do you face? Why?
When I go to banks and say that were developing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These communities are still being red-lined. I believe the lesson is that coalition structure is crucial.

I think there is always a shock when individuals learn who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, people just cant believe it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everybody can share notes is constantly valuable. We are also always prepared 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 neighborhoods that historically have not 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 site series.
Each installation includes market leaders and topics associated with speeding up an equitable and simply transition to an eco-friendly energy economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member business are prospering in the renewable resource 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 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 assisting change communities and their impact 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.
LEARNT 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 critical minutes that made me jump. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas expense, and she was only making 10 bucks an hour, so we could not manage the gas costs. A lot of individuals have similar anecdotes, and thats not a good thing
The second turning point was probably 15 years ago, as I was working for a firm that was purchasing a host of things worldwide. Individuals were coming in to request for an investment around renewable resource, and I positioned a question to them: “What you are finishing with these solar firms is incredible, 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 gain access to? They are paying an out of proportion amount of their earnings on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even attempt ask about the daily individuals. They said, “Well, you understand, low- and moderate-income households typically live in multi-family structures, and it is difficult to get in contact with those constructing owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you have to call individual households and the expense of getting those individuals educated and after that subscribing to renewable resource is not a beneficial organization design.” I asked, “What if I owned the housing development and the solar?” And they stated, whoever does that is going to alter the market permanently. So I stopped my task. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I began my business. Because that is the unit number in the public real estate where I grew up, I called it 548 Capital. Whatever is I do is targeted to families in those circumstances and focused on enhancing their quality of life

What can organizations 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 always important. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods are deserving of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can prospective partners work with you?
Today, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly looking for partners to invest, provide financial obligation or purchase some tax credits, thats the first ask. If they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods, we are likewise constantly prepared to host individuals. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host people when a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that traditionally havent had gain access to. We are also going to be expanding our board. Im always challenging magnates to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I think that has real value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been great simply to meet the other Accelerate member business. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with completely various viewpoints. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Simply knowing that it exists, which ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a big difference.