Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
Tell us about your company? (mission, partners, areas you run in, primary clients, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations available 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 technologies reach everyone.
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 valuable. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing next to us and stating “these communities are worthwhile of financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can prospective partners work with you?
We are also constantly ready to host individuals if they desire 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 traditionally have not had access. Im constantly challenging top executives to put their name and face on these efforts since I believe that has real value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been excellent just to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with completely different point of views. I like 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 deliberate about the program, makes a big difference.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image courtesy of 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 subjects related to speeding up a fair and just shift to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are thriving in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets specialist with more than a years of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his know-how and performance history of developing consistent returns with an individual enthusiasm for assisting change neighborhoods and their influence on the planet. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect on Americas shift to a clean 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 business?
I had two pivotal minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas costs, and she was only making 10 dollars an hour, so we could not pay for the gas expense. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
The 2nd turning point was probably 15 years earlier, as I was working for a firm that was purchasing a host of things around the world. People were coming in to request for an investment around renewable resource, and I posed a question to them: “What you are finishing with these solar companies is incredible, and the expense of solar is boiling down, but how does that help daily people?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their gain access to? They are paying a disproportionate amount of their income on energy.” They looked confused that I would even attempt ask about the everyday people. They stated, “Well, you understand, low- and moderate-income families frequently 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 structure owners, you have to get in touch with specific families and the expense of getting those people educated and then registering for eco-friendly energy is not a beneficial company model.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the real estate development and the solar?” And they stated, whoever does that is going to alter the marketplace permanently. I stopped my job. I believe I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I began my business. Because that is the unit number in the public housing where I grew up, I named it 548 Capital. Everything is I do is targeted to households in those circumstances and focused on improving their quality of life
Show us a recent success story.
We recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be building a $30 million, entirely economical and completely sustainable advancement, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 property 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?
I think there is constantly a shock when individuals discover who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, people just cant think it.
The other thing that I believe is essential is we have a financial impact that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty powerful message. That quantity of cash impacts the spending plan of daily families
What obstacles do you face? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a business, any business, was going to be challenging. With that said, access to capital is ungodly tough. When I go to banks and say that were constructing 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 desire to invest; they dont wish to partner; they do not desire to do their share. It is a battle of generational size that Im trying to fight here, and weve made very little, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that union structure is important. My voice only implies a lot, however the more I can bring good friends to the table and amplify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement
I believe there is always a shock when people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, individuals just cant think it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. We are likewise constantly ready to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people when a week at our building so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had gain access to.