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

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture 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 site series.
Each installment includes market leaders and topics connected to accelerating an equitable and just transition to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are flourishing in the renewable resource 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 genuine estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his knowledge and track record of creating constant returns with a personal enthusiasm for assisting change communities and their influence on the world. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his influence 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 two turning points that made me jump. In 1999, my mom got a $400 gas expense, and she was only making ten bucks an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas costs. And so, sadly, we had our gas and heat shut off. For around a year in my teens, we needed to boil water and carry it approximately a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively difficult times, and experiences like that just stick to you. I do not care what happens the rest of your profession or what your quality of life is moving forward; those moments are with you forever. As I talk about that with different groups around the nation, it has actually become clear that my experience is not an abnormality. A lot of people have comparable anecdotes, whichs not an advantage
They looked puzzled that I would even attempt ask about the daily people. I believe I turned in my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I began my company. I named it 548 Capital because that is the unit number in the public housing where I grew up.

Share with us a recent success story.
We recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, totally budget friendly and totally sustainable development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 property systems, a cafe, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
I believe there is always a shock when people discover who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant think it.
The other thing that I think is essential is we have an economic effect that resonates with people, and its a pretty powerful message. That amount of money effects the spending plan of everyday households
What obstacles do you face? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were constructing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. I think the lesson is that coalition building is crucial.

Inform us about your business? (objective, partners, areas you operate in, primary clients, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everybody ought to have access. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everyone.

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

So what can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in spaces together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods are worthy of financial investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can possible partners work with you?
We are likewise constantly willing to host individuals 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 technology that were applying in neighborhoods that traditionally havent had gain access to. Im constantly challenging leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts because I believe that has genuine worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been terrific just to fulfill the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with totally various viewpoints. I enjoy the networking.
I think we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, and that ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a huge difference.