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

I believe there is always a shock when people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant believe it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. We are likewise constantly ready to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people once a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that traditionally havent had gain access to.

Share with us a recent success story.
We recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be building a $30 million, totally cost effective and completely sustainable development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential units, a coffeehouse, an organization center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What effect are you making?
When individuals discover who is behind our business, I believe there is constantly a shock. Even in our own communities, people just cant think it. To me, thats pretty gratifying. Individuals seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is important is we have a financial impact that resonates with people, and its a quite powerful message. That amount of cash effects the budget plan of everyday households
What challenges do you face? Why?
You cant avoid the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning a business, any company, was going to be hard. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly hard. When I go to banks and state 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. Some banks do not desire to invest; they do not wish to partner; they dont wish to do their share. It is a battle of generational size that Im attempting to combat here, and weve made very small, incremental progress. I believe the lesson is that coalition structure is important. My voice only suggests so much, but the more I can bring good friends to the table and enhance that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement

Inform us about your business? (objective, partners, regions you run in, primary clients, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everyone must have access. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installation includes market leaders and subjects related 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 3 Black-owned Accelerate member business are prospering in the renewable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets professional 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 know-how and performance history of producing consistent returns with an individual passion for assisting transform neighborhoods and their effect on the planet. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his influence on Americas shift to a clean economy.
CHECKED 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 minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas costs, and she was only making 10 bucks an hour, so we couldnt pay for the gas bill. A lot of individuals have similar anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
They looked puzzled that I would even attempt ask about the daily individuals. I believe I turned in my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I started my business. I called it 548 Capital since that is the system number in the public housing where I grew up.

What can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly valuable. Through the Accelerate program, weve had an opportunity to speak directly with lenders and tax credit syndicators which is incredible. Then, if there are national corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a huge offer. Were presently working on a partnership with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our jobs. Normalizing exposure, standing beside us and stating “these neighborhoods are worthwhile of investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can prospective partners do business with you?
Right now, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly trying to find partners to invest, use financial obligation or purchase some tax credits, thats the first ask. If they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities, we are also constantly willing to host people. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host people when a week at our building so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that historically havent had access. We are likewise going to be broadening our board. Im always difficult leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I think that has genuine worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been great just to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with totally various point of views. I love the networking.
I think 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 distinction.