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

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 rooms together so everybody can share notes is constantly valuable. We are likewise constantly ready to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in communities that traditionally havent had gain access to.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture 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 series.
Each installment includes industry leaders and subjects associated with speeding up an equitable and just shift to a sustainable energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member business are growing in the eco-friendly energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets specialist with more than a decade of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and genuine estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his expertise and performance history of developing consistent returns with an individual passion for assisting change neighborhoods and their effect on the world. 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.
LEARNT 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 got a $400 gas costs, and she was just making 10 bucks an hour, so we could not manage the gas costs. A lot of individuals have similar anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
The 2nd essential moment was probably 15 years ago, as I was working for a company that was investing in a host of things worldwide. Individuals were coming in to request for an investment around renewable resource, and I posed a concern to them: “What you are finishing with these solar companies is incredible, and the expense of solar is coming down, however how does that assistance everyday people?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their access? They are paying an out of proportion quantity of their earnings on energy.” They looked confused that I would even dare ask about the daily individuals. They stated, “Well, you understand, low- and moderate-income households often live in multi-family structures, and it is tough to get in contact with those building owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you have to call specific households and the expense of getting those individuals informed and then registering for renewable energy is not a beneficial business model.” I asked, “What if I owned the housing advancement and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to alter the market permanently. So I quit my task. I believe I kipped down my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I began my business. Because that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up, I named it 548 Capital. So whatever is I do is targeted to families in those situations and focused on improving their lifestyle

Share with us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to announce that we will be building a $30 million, completely sustainable and entirely economical development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 domestic systems, a coffee shop, a company center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
I believe there is constantly a shock when individuals discover who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant think it. To me, thats quite fulfilling. Individuals seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is crucial is we have an economic impact that resonates with individuals, and its a quite effective message. That amount of money effects the budget plan of everyday families
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a service, any company, was going to be hard. With that said, access to capital is ungodly difficult. When I go to banks and say that were developing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income communities, they take a look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks dont want to invest; they do not wish 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 really small, incremental development. I believe the lesson is that coalition building is essential. My voice just implies so much, however the more I can bring friends to the table and amplify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need

What can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in spaces together so everyone can share notes is always valuable. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a chance to speak straight with bankers and tax credit syndicators which is incredible. Then, if there are nationwide corporations that can support our work that can also be a huge deal. Were currently working on a partnership with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our jobs. Stabilizing exposure, standing beside us and saying “these neighborhoods are deserving of investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can prospective partners do service with you?
We are also constantly ready to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had access. Im constantly tough top 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 subscription benefited you?
Its been terrific just to fulfill the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with absolutely various viewpoints. I love the networking.
I think we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Simply knowing that it exists, and that ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a huge distinction.

Tell us about your company? (mission, partners, regions you run in, main consumers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all communities, all households, everybody ought to have gain access to. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone.