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

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installation features industry leaders and topics connected to accelerating an equitable and simply shift to a renewable energy economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member business are prospering 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 financial 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 assisting 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 influence on Americas transition to a tidy economy.
LEARNT 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 jump. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas costs, and she was just making 10 bucks an hour, so we couldnt pay for 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 everyday individuals. I believe I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I began my business. I named it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up.

I believe there is constantly a shock when individuals discover who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, individuals simply cant think it. Putting people in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. We are likewise always ready to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. We host individuals as soon as a week at our building so they can see the technology that were using in communities that traditionally have not had access.

Tell us about your company? (mission, partners, areas you operate in, primary consumers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everyone must have access. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody.

Show us a current success story.
We recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be building a $30 million, totally cost effective and totally sustainable development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 domestic units, a coffeehouse, an organization 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 always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, individuals just cant believe it. To me, thats quite gratifying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is important is we have a financial effect that resonates with people, and its a pretty effective message. That quantity of cash impacts the spending plan of everyday households
What difficulties do you face? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning a company, any business, was going to be tough. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly challenging. 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 incorrect language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks dont wish to invest; they dont want 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 very little, incremental development. I think the lesson is that coalition building is necessary. My voice just suggests so much, however the more I can bring buddies to the table and magnify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need

What can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always important. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these communities are deserving of investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can possible partners work with you?
We are likewise always prepared to host people if they desire 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 innovation that were applying in communities that traditionally have not had gain access to. Im always challenging top executives to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I believe that has genuine worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been great simply to fulfill the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and learning more about people with absolutely different perspectives. I like the networking.
I think we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, which ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a big difference.