Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
Show us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to announce that we will be constructing a $30 million, completely sustainable and completely cost effective development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 property units, a cafe, an organization 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 individuals learn who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant think it. To me, thats quite gratifying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is very important is we have an economic impact that resonates with people, and its a quite powerful message. Were aiming to cut utility expenditures for households in half. Thats a big deal, you know. That amount of cash impacts the spending plan of everyday households
What challenges do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were building sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These communities are still being red-lined. I think the lesson is that union structure is crucial.
I think there is always a shock when people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant believe it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. We are also always prepared to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. We host individuals when a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were applying in communities that historically havent had access.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installation includes market leaders and subjects connected to accelerating an equitable and just transition to an eco-friendly energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member business are thriving in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a decade of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his knowledge and performance history of producing constant returns with a personal passion for helping change neighborhoods and their effect on the planet. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect 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 turning points that made me jump. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas costs, and she was only making ten dollars an hour, so we could not manage the gas expense. And so, sadly, we had our gas and heat turned off. For around a year in my teenagers, we needed to boil water and bring it as much as a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively difficult times, and experiences like that just stick with you. I do not care what happens the rest of your career or what your lifestyle is moving on; those moments are with you permanently. As I discuss that with different groups around the country, it has actually ended up being clear that my experience is not an abnormality. A great deal of individuals have comparable anecdotes, whichs not a good thing
The 2nd pivotal moment was probably 15 years back, as I was working for a firm that was purchasing a host of things around the world. Individuals were coming in to ask for an investment around sustainable energy, and I positioned a question to them: “What you are making with these solar firms is magnificent, and the expense of solar is boiling down, however how does that assistance daily people?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their access? They are paying a disproportionate amount of their income on energy.” They looked confused that I would even attempt inquire about the everyday individuals. They said, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income families frequently reside in multi-family buildings, and it is difficult to get in contact with those building owners. If you can not get in contact with the structure owners, you have to contact private families and the expense of getting those individuals informed and then subscribing to eco-friendly energy is not a beneficial service model.” 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. So I stopped my job. I believe I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I started my business. I called it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up. So whatever is I do is targeted to households in those scenarios and concentrated on enhancing their quality of life
Tell us about your company? (mission, partners, areas you run in, primary consumers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everyone should have access. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone.
So what can companies 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 important. Stabilizing exposure, standing next to us and saying “these communities are worthwhile of investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can potential partners work with you?
Today, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly searching for partners to invest, use financial obligation or buy some tax credits, thats the first ask. We are also always going to host people if they wish to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host people once a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in communities that traditionally havent had access. We are likewise going to be broadening our board. Im constantly tough leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I believe that has real value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been excellent simply to meet the other Accelerate member business. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and finding out about people with totally various point of views. I like the networking.
I believe we are doing the very 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 difference.