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, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations available for all: all communities, all households, everybody must have access. Somebody, some entity, has to act as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone. Thats what my objective is, and thankfully we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, but we will be revealing some brand-new areas this fall

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is happy to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installation includes market leaders and topics associated with speeding up an equitable and simply transition to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member companies are growing in the renewable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets specialist with more than a decade of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and real estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his know-how and track record of creating consistent returns with a personal enthusiasm for assisting change neighborhoods 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.
FOUND OUT MORE: Up-and-Comer Developer Makes Headway without the Banks ( Chicago Sun-Times, August 27, 2021).
What inspired you to start your business?
I had 2 pivotal minutes that made me jump. In 1999, my mom got a $400 gas bill, and she was just making 10 bucks an hour, so we could not pay for the gas expense. And so, regrettably, we had our gas and heat shut down. For approximately a year in my teens, we needed to boil water and carry it approximately a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were uniquely difficult times, and experiences like that simply stick to you. I dont care what happens the rest of your career or what your quality of life is progressing; those minutes are with you permanently. As I discuss that with different groups around the nation, it has actually become clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A lot of individuals have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a good thing
They looked confused that I would even attempt ask about the everyday individuals. I believe I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I started my company. I named it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up.

I think there is constantly a shock when people learn who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, people just cant believe it. Putting people in spaces together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. We are likewise always willing to host people if they want 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 gain access to.

So what can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always important. Through the Accelerate program, weve had an opportunity to speak straight with lenders and tax credit syndicators which is spectacular. If there are national corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a huge offer. Were currently working on a collaboration with Lowes, which is contributing about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our jobs. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these communities deserve investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can potential partners work with you?
We are likewise always prepared to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation 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 havent had gain access to. Im always difficult leading 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 subscription benefited you?
Its been terrific simply to satisfy the other Accelerate member business. I discovered a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with absolutely different perspectives. I love the networking.
I believe 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 huge difference.

Share with us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, completely budget-friendly and completely sustainable advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 residential systems, a coffee bar, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered use in the city
What impact are you making?
When people learn who is behind our company, I think there is constantly a shock. Even in our own communities, individuals just cant believe it. To me, thats quite satisfying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is essential is we have a financial impact that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty effective message. That amount of money effects the budget of daily households
What difficulties do you face? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were developing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These communities are still being red-lined. I believe the lesson is that union building is important.