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 communities, people simply cant believe it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly 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 people as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that historically have not had gain access to.

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, completely affordable and completely sustainable advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 property units, a coffee bar, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered use in the city
What effect are you making?
When people learn who is behind our business, I believe there is constantly a shock. Even in our own communities, individuals just cant think it. To me, thats quite fulfilling. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is important is we have an economic effect that resonates with people, and its a quite powerful message. That amount of cash effects the budget plan of everyday families
What difficulties do you face? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a service, any business, was going to be difficult. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly tough. When I go to banks and say that were developing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they take a look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks do not wish to invest; they dont desire to partner; they do not want to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im attempting to fight here, and weve made really small, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that union structure is essential. My voice only suggests a lot, but the more I can bring pals to the table and magnify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement

So what can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in rooms together so everybody can share notes is constantly valuable. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a possibility to speak directly with lenders and tax credit syndicators which is amazing. If there are nationwide corporations that can support our work that can also be a huge deal. Were presently working on a collaboration with Lowes, which is contributing about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our tasks. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods are worthy of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can potential partners work with you?
We are likewise constantly prepared to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation 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 neighborhoods that historically havent had gain access to. Im constantly tough leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts since I think that has real value
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been terrific simply to fulfill the other Accelerate member business. I found out a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and learning about individuals with totally different point of views. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the finest 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.

Inform us about your business? (mission, partners, regions you operate in, primary customers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all communities, all households, everyone must have access. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everybody.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the 3rd installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment features industry leaders and subjects connected to accelerating a fair and simply shift to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are flourishing in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets professional with more than a years of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his know-how and performance history of producing consistent returns with a personal enthusiasm for helping transform communities and their influence on the planet. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect on Americas shift to a tidy economy.
FOUND 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 pivotal minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas expense, and she was only making 10 dollars an hour, so we could not afford the gas expense. And so, sadly, we had our gas and heat turned off. For roughly a year in my teens, we needed to boil water and bring it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were uniquely difficult times, and experiences like that simply stick with you. I dont care what takes place the rest of your profession or what your quality of life is moving forward; those moments are with you permanently. As I talk about that with various groups around the country, it has become clear that my experience is not an abnormality. A lot of individuals have similar anecdotes, whichs not an advantage
The second turning point was probably 15 years ago, as I was working for a company that was buying a host of things around the world. Individuals were being available in to request for an investment around renewable resource, and I posed a question to them: “What you are finishing with these solar companies is amazing, and the cost of solar is boiling down, however how does that help 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 daily individuals. They stated, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income households typically live in multi-family buildings, and it is tough to get in contact with those developing owners. If you can not get in contact with the structure owners, you need to get in touch with individual households and the expense of getting those people educated and after that registering for renewable resource is not a favorable organization model.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the housing advancement and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to alter the marketplace permanently. So I stopped my job. I think I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that conversation, and I started my company. Since that is the unit number in the public housing where I grew up, I called it 548 Capital. So everything is I do is targeted to families in those scenarios and focused on improving their quality of life