Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
Inform us about your company? (mission, partners, areas you run in, main customers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations accessible for all: all communities, all households, everyone ought to have access. Somebody, some entity, needs to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everybody. Thats what my mission is, and fortunately we are growing. We are presently headquartered in Chicago, but we will be revealing some new areas this fall
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 always valuable. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing next to us and stating “these communities are worthy of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can potential partners work with you?
Right now, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly searching for partners to invest, use financial obligation 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 likewise always willing to host individuals. This is not exclusive; its an open book. We host individuals when a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that historically have not had gain access to. We are also going to be expanding our board. Im constantly difficult magnates to put their name and face on these efforts since I think that has genuine worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been excellent simply to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and learning more about individuals with totally various point of views. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Just understanding that it exists, and that ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a big difference.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is happy to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installation includes industry leaders and topics associated with accelerating an equitable and just transition to a renewable energy economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are growing in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a years of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and real estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his knowledge and performance history of producing consistent returns with a personal passion for assisting transform communities and their effect on the planet. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his influence on Americas transition to a clean economy.
READ MORE: Up-and-Comer Developer Makes Headway without the Banks ( Chicago Sun-Times, August 27, 2021).
What inspired you to begin your company?
I had two essential moments that made me leap. In 1999, my mom got a $400 gas costs, and she was only making ten dollars an hour, so we couldnt afford the gas bill. A lot of individuals have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
The 2nd critical moment was most likely 15 years earlier, as I was working for a firm that was buying a host of things all over the world. Individuals were can be found in to request for a financial investment around renewable resource, and I postured a question to them: “What you are doing with these solar firms is amazing, and the expense of solar is boiling down, but how does that help everyday people?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their gain access to? They are paying a disproportionate quantity of their income on energy.” They looked confused that I would even dare ask about the everyday people. They said, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income households typically reside 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 structure owners, you have to get in touch with individual families and the expense of getting those individuals informed and after that subscribing to renewable resource is not a favorable organization model.” I asked, “What if I owned the housing advancement and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to change the marketplace permanently. I quit my job. I believe I kipped down my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I started my business. I called it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the general public real estate where I grew up. So whatever is I do is targeted to families in those circumstances and concentrated on improving their quality of life
Show us a recent success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be constructing a $30 million, completely budget-friendly and totally sustainable advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential systems, a coffeehouse, a service 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 constantly a shock when people learn who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, individuals simply cant think it.
The other thing that I think is necessary is we have a financial impact that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty powerful message. Were aiming to cut energy expenditures for families in half. Thats a big deal, you know. That amount of money impacts the spending plan of everyday families
What challenges do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a service, any service, was going to be hard. With that said, access to capital is ungodly tough. When I go to banks and say that were constructing sustainable housing 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 want to invest; they dont desire to partner; they do not desire to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im attempting to battle here, and weve made very small, incremental progress. I believe the lesson is that union building is important. My voice just suggests so much, but the more I can bring good friends to the table and amplify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need
I think there is constantly a shock when people discover who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, people just cant think it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly important. We are also constantly prepared to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. We host individuals once a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in neighborhoods that historically have not had access.