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

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is happy to share the third installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment includes industry leaders and subjects connected to speeding up a fair and simply transition to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are prospering in the renewable energy 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 genuine estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his expertise and track record of producing consistent returns with a personal passion for assisting change neighborhoods and their impact on the world. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his influence on Americas shift to a tidy economy.
CHECKED OUT 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 two essential minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas expense, and she was only making ten dollars an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas bill. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, and thats not a good thing
They looked confused that I would even dare ask about the everyday people. I think I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I started my business. I called it 548 Capital because that is the unit number in the public real estate where I grew up.

Share with us a current success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to announce that we will be building a $30 million, completely sustainable and completely inexpensive development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 property systems, a coffeehouse, a service center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered use in the city
What effect are you making?
I believe there is always a shock when people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, people simply cant think it.
The other thing that I believe is essential is we have an economic effect that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty effective message. That quantity of cash impacts the budget plan of daily families
What challenges do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and say that were building sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These communities are still being red-lined. I believe the lesson is that union building is essential.

I believe there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant think it. Putting people in rooms together so everyone can share notes is always important. We are also constantly willing to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals once a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were applying in communities that traditionally have not had gain access to.

Inform us about your business? (objective, partners, areas you run in, primary customers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations accessible for all: all communities, all households, everybody should have gain access to. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everyone.

So what can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in rooms together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these communities are deserving of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can potential partners do organization with you?
We are also constantly willing to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals when a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had access. Im always tough leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts since I think that has real worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been terrific simply to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and learning more about individuals with totally various viewpoints. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the best we can do in the COVID environment. Simply knowing that it exists, and that ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a huge distinction.