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

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

Show us a recent success story.
We recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, totally economical and completely sustainable advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential units, a cafe, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
I believe there is constantly a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, people just cant believe it. To me, thats quite gratifying. Individuals seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is crucial is we have a financial impact that resonates with people, and its a quite powerful message. That quantity of cash impacts the budget of everyday households
What obstacles do you face? Why?
You cant avoid the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning a company, any organization, was going to be difficult. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly hard. When I go to banks and say that were building sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income communities, they take a look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks do not wish to invest; they do not want to partner; they dont wish to do their share. It is a battle of generational size that Im trying to battle here, and weve made extremely little, incremental progress. I believe the lesson is that union structure is important. My voice only indicates so much, but the more I can bring buddies to the table and amplify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment includes market leaders and subjects related to accelerating a fair and simply shift to a renewable resource economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are prospering 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 financial investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his knowledge and track record of developing constant returns with a personal enthusiasm for assisting transform communities and their influence on the planet. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his impact on Americas shift to a clean economy.
LEARNT MORE: Up-and-Comer Developer Makes Headway without the Banks ( Chicago Sun-Times, August 27, 2021).
What inspired you to start your company?
I had 2 pivotal minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas costs, and she was only making ten dollars an hour, so we couldnt pay for the gas costs. A lot of individuals have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a good thing
The second essential minute was probably 15 years ago, as I was working for a firm that was buying a host of things around the world. Individuals were coming in to request an investment around renewable resource, and I postured a question to them: “What you are finishing with these solar firms is incredible, and the cost of solar is boiling down, however how does that aid everyday people?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their access? They are paying an out of proportion amount of their earnings on energy.” They looked confused that I would even attempt inquire about the everyday people. They stated, “Well, you understand, low- and moderate-income families often live 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 need to contact private families and the cost of getting those people informed and after that signing up for renewable resource is not a beneficial service model.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the real estate development and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to change the marketplace permanently. So I stopped my job. I believe I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I began my company. I named it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the general public real estate where I grew up. Everything is I do is targeted to households in those situations and focused on enhancing their quality of life

What can organizations 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 constantly valuable. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a chance to speak straight with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is magnificent. If there are national corporations that can support our work that can also be a big offer. Were presently working on a partnership with Lowes, which is contributing about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our tasks. Normalizing exposure, standing beside us and stating “these neighborhoods are deserving of financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can prospective partners work with you?
Today, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly looking for partners to invest, offer financial obligation or buy some tax credits, thats the first ask. If they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities, we are likewise constantly willing to host individuals. This is not exclusive; its an open book. We host individuals once a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had access. We are also going to be expanding our board. Because I think that has genuine value, Im constantly difficult top executives to put their name and face on these efforts
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been terrific just to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and discovering people with totally different point of views. I like the networking.
I think we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Simply knowing that it exists, which ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a huge distinction.

Inform us about your company? (objective, partners, regions you run in, primary customers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everybody needs to have access. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody.