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

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installation includes market leaders and topics associated with speeding up an equitable and just shift to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member business are thriving in the renewable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a years of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and genuine estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his proficiency and performance history of developing constant returns with an individual enthusiasm for assisting change communities and their impact on the planet. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his impact on Americas shift 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 company?
I had 2 critical moments that made me jump. In 1999, my mom got a $400 gas costs, and she was just making 10 dollars an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas costs. A lot of individuals have similar anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
They looked puzzled that I would even dare ask about the everyday people. I believe I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I started my company. I named it 548 Capital since that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up.

I believe there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant think it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly valuable. We are likewise always ready to host people 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 structure so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had gain access to.

Inform us about your company? (objective, partners, areas you operate in, primary customers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations available for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everybody ought to have access. Someone, some entity, has to work as the bridge so that those technologies reach everybody. Thats what my mission is, and thankfully we are growing. We are presently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be announcing some new locations this fall

Show us a recent success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, entirely budget friendly and entirely sustainable advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 residential systems, a coffee store, an organization 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 company, I think there is constantly a shock. Even in our own communities, individuals just cant think it. To me, thats quite satisfying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is essential is we have an economic impact that resonates with people, and its a quite powerful message. That amount of money impacts the budget plan of daily families
What challenges do you face? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were constructing sustainable housing 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.

So what can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in spaces together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a chance to speak straight with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is magnificent. If there are national corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a huge deal. Were presently dealing with a collaboration with Lowes, which is contributing about $1,000,000 worth of products to support our tasks. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and stating “these communities deserve investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can prospective partners work with you?
We are also always ready to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. We host individuals once a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were using in neighborhoods that historically have not had gain access to. Im constantly difficult leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts since I believe that has genuine value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been great simply to fulfill the other Accelerate member companies. I discovered a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with totally different viewpoints. I love the networking.
I think 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 distinction.