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

So what can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in rooms together so everyone can share notes is always important. Stabilizing exposure, standing next to us and saying “these communities are worthy of financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can possible partners work with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are always trying to find partners to invest, offer debt or purchase some tax credits, thats the first ask. We are also always ready to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. This is not exclusive; its an open book. 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. We are also going to be expanding our board. Due to the fact that I think that has genuine value, Im constantly challenging leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been terrific just to fulfill the other Accelerate member business. I discovered a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and learning more about people with absolutely various perspectives. I enjoy the networking.
I think we are doing the best we can do in the COVID environment. Simply knowing that it exists, and that ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a big distinction.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the third installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installment includes market leaders and subjects associated with speeding up an equitable and simply transition to a renewable 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 energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a years of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and real estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his knowledge and performance history of developing consistent returns with an individual enthusiasm for helping transform communities and their effect 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.
READ 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 pivotal minutes that made me jump. In 1999, my mom got a $400 gas costs, and she was only making ten dollars an hour, so we couldnt afford the gas costs. A lot of individuals have similar anecdotes, and thats not a good thing
They looked confused that I would even dare ask about the daily individuals. I think I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I started my business. I called it 548 Capital because that is the unit number in the public real estate where I grew up.

Show us a current success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be constructing a $30 million, totally economical and completely sustainable advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential units, a coffeehouse, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered use in the city
What impact are you making?
I believe there is constantly a shock when people learn who lags our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals simply cant believe it. To me, thats quite satisfying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is very important is we have a financial effect that resonates with people, and its a pretty powerful message. Were intending to cut utility costs for families in half. Thats a huge offer, you know. That amount of money impacts the spending plan of daily households
What challenges do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a business, any service, was going to be difficult. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly tough. When I go to banks and state that were developing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income communities, they take a look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These communities are still being red-lined. Some banks dont want to invest; they do not wish to partner; they do not want to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im trying to combat here, and weve made really small, incremental progress. I believe the lesson is that union building is very important. My voice only means a lot, however the more I can bring buddies to the table and magnify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need

I think there is constantly a shock when people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals simply cant think it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. We are likewise always ready to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people once a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had access.

Inform us about your business? (objective, partners, areas you run in, main customers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everyone needs to have gain access to. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody.