By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment includes market leaders and topics related to accelerating a fair and just shift to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member companies are flourishing in the sustainable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a years of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and property analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his proficiency and performance history of creating constant returns with an individual passion for helping transform communities and their impact 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.
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 critical moments that made me leap. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas costs, and she was just making 10 bucks an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas bill. 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 think I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I started my company. I named it 548 Capital since that is the unit number in the public real estate where I grew up.
I think there is always a shock when people discover 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 constantly important. We are likewise always 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 technology that were applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had gain access to.
Inform us about your company? (mission, partners, regions you operate in, main consumers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everybody should have gain access to. Somebody, some entity, has to act as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone. Thats what my objective is, and thankfully we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be announcing some brand-new locations this fall
Show us a current success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to announce that we will be constructing a $30 million, totally sustainable and entirely economical advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 domestic systems, a coffee bar, 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 think there is always a shock when people learn who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, people just cant believe it.
The other thing that I believe is crucial is we have an economic impact that resonates with people, and its a pretty powerful message. Were aiming to cut utility expenditures for families in half. Thats a huge offer, you know. That amount of money effects the spending plan of daily households
What obstacles do you face? Why?
When I go to banks and say that were constructing sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These communities are still being red-lined. I believe the lesson is that coalition building is crucial.
So what can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in spaces together so everyone can share notes is always important. Stabilizing exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods are worthwhile of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can possible partners do company with you?
We are likewise always prepared to host individuals if they desire 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 using in neighborhoods that historically have not had access. Im always tough top executives to put their name and face on these efforts because I think that has real value
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been great just to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with totally different perspectives. I enjoy the networking.
I think we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Simply knowing that it exists, which ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a big difference.