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

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

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the 3rd installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment features market leaders and subjects connected to speeding up a fair and simply transition to an eco-friendly energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are growing in the renewable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a decade of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his competence and track record of developing consistent returns with a personal enthusiasm for assisting change neighborhoods and their impact on the planet. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect 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 begin your business?
I had two essential moments that made me jump. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas costs, and she was just making ten bucks an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas expense. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, and thats not a good thing
They looked puzzled that I would even attempt ask about the everyday people. I believe I turned in my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I began my company. I called it 548 Capital because that is the unit number in the public housing where I grew up.

So what can organizations 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 important. Stabilizing exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods are deserving of investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can possible partners do company with you?
We are likewise always prepared to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people when a week at our building so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had gain access to. Im always tough 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 just to meet the other Accelerate member business. I learned a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and learning more about individuals with absolutely various point of views. 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 huge difference.

Show us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be constructing a $30 million, completely cost effective and entirely sustainable development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 residential units, a coffeehouse, a company center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
When people discover who is behind our company, I think there is always a shock. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant believe it. To me, thats pretty satisfying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is important 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 everyday households
What difficulties do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a service, any business, was going to be challenging. With that said, access to capital is ungodly tough. When I go to banks and state that were developing sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks do not want to invest; they do not desire to partner; they dont wish to do their share. It is a battle of generational size that Im trying to eliminate here, and weve made very small, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that union building is essential. My voice just indicates so much, but the more I can bring friends to the table and amplify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement

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