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

Tell us about your business? (mission, partners, areas you run in, main customers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everybody ought to have access. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody. Thats what my objective is, and fortunately we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be revealing some new areas this fall

Show us a current success story.
We recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to announce that we will be developing a $30 million, completely budget friendly and totally sustainable development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 domestic units, a coffee bar, a service center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered use in the city
What impact are you making?
When individuals learn who is behind our business, I believe there is always a shock. Even in our own communities, people simply cant believe it. To me, thats quite satisfying. Individuals seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is crucial is we have an economic impact that resonates with individuals, and its a quite effective message. That amount of cash impacts the spending plan of daily families
What challenges do you face? Why?
When I go to banks and say that were building sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. I think the lesson is that union building is crucial.

I think there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, people simply cant believe it. Putting people in rooms together so everyone can share notes is always valuable. We are also constantly ready to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. We host people once a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in communities that historically havent had gain access to.

What can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly valuable. Normalizing exposure, standing next to us and stating “these neighborhoods are deserving of financial investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can potential partners work with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly trying to find partners to invest, offer debt or purchase some tax credits, thats the first ask. If they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities, we are also always willing to host individuals. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host individuals once a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in communities that historically havent had gain access to. We are also going to be broadening our board. Since I believe that has genuine worth, Im constantly difficult leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been terrific simply to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and learning more about individuals with completely various viewpoints. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, and that ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a big distinction.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the 3rd installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment features market leaders and subjects associated with accelerating an equitable and just 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 growing in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets specialist with more than a years of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his know-how and track record of producing constant returns with a personal enthusiasm for assisting transform communities and their influence on the world. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his impact on Americas shift to a clean economy.
FOUND 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 2 essential moments that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas bill, and she was just making ten dollars an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas expense. And so, regrettably, we had our gas and heat shut off. For roughly a year in my teens, we had to boil water and bring it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively tough times, and experiences like that simply stick to you. I do not care what happens the rest of your profession or what your lifestyle is moving forward; those moments are with you forever. As I discuss that with various groups around the nation, it has actually ended up being clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A great deal of individuals have similar anecdotes, and thats not an advantage
The 2nd essential moment was most likely 15 years ago, as I was working for a company that was buying a host of things all over the world. Individuals were being available in to ask for a financial investment around renewable energy, and I presented a concern to them: “What you are making with these solar companies is incredible, and the expense of solar is boiling down, but how does that help everyday individuals?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their access? They are paying an out of proportion amount of their earnings on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even dare inquire about the everyday individuals. They stated, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income families typically live in multi-family buildings, and it is hard to get in contact with those constructing owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you need to call private households and the expense of getting those people educated and after that registering for renewable resource is not a beneficial business design.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the real estate advancement and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to change the market forever. I quit my job. I think I kipped down my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I began my business. I named it 548 Capital since that is the system number in the general public real estate where I matured. So whatever is I do is targeted to families in those situations and focused on enhancing their lifestyle