Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
Inform us about your business? (objective, partners, areas you run in, primary clients, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everyone needs to have gain access to. Someone, some entity, needs to work as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody. Thats what my mission is, and luckily we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, but we will be revealing some new places this fall
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the 3rd installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installment includes industry leaders and topics connected to accelerating an equitable and simply transition to a renewable resource economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are flourishing 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 genuine estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his expertise and track record of producing constant returns with a personal passion for helping change communities 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 start your company?
I had 2 critical minutes that made me jump. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas bill, and she was just making 10 bucks an hour, so we could not afford the gas expense. A lot of people have comparable anecdotes, and thats not an excellent thing
They looked confused that I would even dare ask about the daily people. I believe I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I started my business. I named it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up.
So what can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly valuable. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods are worthwhile of financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can prospective partners work with you?
We are also always ready to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals as soon as a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were applying in communities that historically havent had gain access to. Im always difficult leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts since I believe that has real value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been fantastic simply to meet the other Accelerate member business. I learned a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and discovering people with absolutely various point of views. I like the networking.
I believe we are doing the best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, which ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a big difference.
I believe there is always a shock when people learn who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, individuals simply cant think it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. We are also always prepared to host individuals if they desire 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 have not had access.
Share with us a recent success story.
We recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to announce that we will be developing a $30 million, completely economical and totally sustainable advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 residential systems, a coffee bar, an organization center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
I think there is always a shock when people learn who lags our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant believe it. To me, thats pretty fulfilling. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is important is we have an economic impact that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty powerful message. That quantity of money impacts the budget plan of everyday households
What challenges do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and say that were constructing 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 coalition building is important.