Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
Inform us about your company? (objective, partners, regions you operate in, primary clients, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everyone ought to have gain access to. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody.
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 valuable. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a possibility to speak straight with lenders and tax credit syndicators which is amazing. If there are nationwide corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a big offer. Were presently working on a partnership with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of products to support our jobs. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing beside us and stating “these neighborhoods deserve financial investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can possible partners work with you?
We are also always prepared to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. We host people once a week at our building so they can see the technology that were applying in communities that historically havent had gain access to. Im constantly challenging top executives to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I think that has genuine worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been fantastic simply to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I discovered a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and discovering individuals with totally various viewpoints. I love the networking.
I believe we are doing the finest we can do in the COVID environment. Simply understanding that it exists, and that ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a big difference.
Show us a recent success story.
We recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to announce that we will be constructing a $30 million, entirely cost effective and completely sustainable advancement, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 property systems, a coffee store, a business 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 learn who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant believe it. To me, thats pretty fulfilling. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is important is we have an economic effect that resonates with people, and its a pretty powerful message. Were aiming to cut energy expenditures for families in half. Thats a huge deal, you understand. That amount of money impacts the budget of daily households
What obstacles do you face? Why?
You cant avoid the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a company, any organization, was going to be hard. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly tough. When I go to banks and say that were building sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they take a look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These communities are still being red-lined. Some banks dont 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 combat here, and weve made extremely little, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that union structure is crucial. My voice just suggests so much, but the more I can bring pals to the table and magnify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need
I think there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people just cant believe it. Putting people in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly valuable. We are also always ready to host individuals if they want 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 innovation that were using in communities that historically have not had access.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment includes industry leaders and topics related to accelerating an equitable and just transition to an eco-friendly energy economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are thriving in the eco-friendly 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 real estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his competence and performance history of producing constant returns with an individual enthusiasm for helping change communities and their effect on the planet. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his influence on Americas transition 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 begin your business?
I had two critical moments that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas expense, and she was only making ten dollars an hour, so we could not manage the gas costs. And so, unfortunately, we had our gas and heat turned off. For approximately a year in my teenagers, we had to boil water and carry it as much as a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were uniquely tough times, and experiences like that simply stick to you. I do not care what occurs the rest of your profession or what your lifestyle is progressing; those moments are with you forever. As I speak about that with various groups around the country, it has become clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A great deal of people have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a good idea
The second pivotal moment was probably 15 years earlier, as I was working for a company that was investing in a host of things all over the world. Individuals were being available in to request a financial investment around renewable resource, and I postured a question to them: “What you are finishing with these solar companies is amazing, and the expense of solar is boiling down, however how does that help daily individuals?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their gain access to? They are paying an out of proportion quantity of their earnings on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even dare inquire about the everyday individuals. They stated, “Well, you understand, low- and moderate-income families typically reside in multi-family structures, and it is tough to get in contact with those constructing owners. If you can not get in contact with the structure owners, you have to call private families and the expense of getting those people informed and then registering for renewable resource is not a beneficial organization design.” I asked, “What if I owned the housing development and the solar?” And they stated, whoever does that is going to alter the marketplace forever. So I stopped my task. I believe I kipped down my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I began my business. I named it 548 Capital because that is the unit number in the general public housing where I matured. So whatever is I do is targeted to families in those scenarios and concentrated on enhancing their quality of life