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

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

I think there is constantly a shock when individuals learn who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant believe it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always important. We are also always prepared to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. We host individuals when a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were applying in communities that traditionally have not had access.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installation features market leaders and subjects connected to accelerating an equitable and simply transition to a sustainable energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are flourishing in the renewable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a decade of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his competence and performance history of developing constant returns with a personal enthusiasm for helping change neighborhoods and their effect on the world. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect on Americas transition 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 2 turning points that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas expense, and she was only making ten bucks an hour, so we couldnt pay for the gas costs. And so, sadly, we had our gas and heat shut down. For around a year in my teens, we needed to boil water and bring it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively difficult times, and experiences like that just stick to you. I dont care what happens the rest of your career or what your lifestyle is moving on; those moments are with you permanently. As I talk about that with different groups around the country, it has actually ended up being clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A lot of people have comparable anecdotes, and thats not an advantage
They looked confused that I would even dare ask about the daily people. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I began my company. I called it 548 Capital since that is the unit number in the public real estate where I grew up.

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. 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 also be a big offer. Were currently dealing with a partnership with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of products to support our jobs. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and stating “these communities deserve investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can possible partners do service with you?
We are likewise constantly willing to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals as soon as a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were applying in communities that traditionally havent had access. Im constantly difficult top executives to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I think that has genuine value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been terrific simply to satisfy the other Accelerate member business. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and discovering people with totally various perspectives. I enjoy the networking.
I think we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Just knowing that it exists, which ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a huge distinction.

Share with us a current success story.
We recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be constructing a $30 million, entirely budget friendly and entirely sustainable development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential units, a cafe, a service center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered use in the city
What impact are you making?
When people discover who is behind our business, I think there is always a shock. Even in our own communities, people just cant think it. To me, thats pretty rewarding. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is necessary is we have an economic effect that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty effective message. Were aiming to cut utility expenses for households in half. Thats a huge deal, you know. That quantity of money effects the spending plan of daily families
What challenges do you face? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning a service, any business, was going to be tough. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly tough. When I go to banks and state that were building sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks do not wish to invest; they do not want to partner; they dont want to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im trying to battle here, and weve made really little, incremental progress. I believe the lesson is that coalition structure is very important. My voice only means a lot, however the more I can bring buddies to the table and amplify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need