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

I think there is constantly a shock when individuals discover who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, people simply cant think it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly important. We are also constantly ready to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. We host people when a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were applying in communities that traditionally have not had gain access to.

What can organizations 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 always valuable. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and stating “these communities are deserving of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can potential partners work with you?
Today, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly trying to find partners to invest, offer debt or buy some tax credits, thats the very first ask. We are also constantly prepared 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 individuals once a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were applying in communities that traditionally havent had access. We are also going to be broadening our board. Im always challenging top executives to put their name and face on these efforts because I believe that has real worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been excellent simply to fulfill the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and discovering about people with completely different point of views. I enjoy the networking.
I think we are doing the finest we can do in the COVID environment. Just knowing that it exists, and that ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a big difference.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is happy to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installation includes industry leaders and topics connected to speeding up an equitable and just shift to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member companies are prospering 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 property analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his competence and performance history of producing consistent returns with an individual enthusiasm for assisting change communities and their impact on the planet. 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.
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 pivotal moments that made me jump. In 1999, my mom got a $400 gas bill, and she was only making ten dollars an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas bill. And so, unfortunately, we had our gas and heat shut down. For approximately 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 just stick with you. I do not care what occurs the rest of your career or what your lifestyle is moving on; those minutes are with you permanently. As I discuss that with different groups around the nation, it has actually ended up being clear that my experience is not an abnormality. A great deal of people have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a good idea
They looked puzzled that I would even dare ask about the daily individuals. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I began my company. I called it 548 Capital because that is the unit number in the public real estate where I grew up.

Share with us a recent success story.
We recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to announce that we will be constructing a $30 million, completely sustainable and completely budget friendly advancement, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 domestic systems, a coffee shop, an organization center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What effect are you making?
I think there is constantly a shock when people discover who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, people simply cant think it.
The other thing that I believe is important is we have an economic effect that resonates with individuals, and its a quite effective message. That quantity of money impacts the budget of everyday families
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a business, any organization, was going to be hard. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly hard. When I go to banks and say that were building sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These communities are still being red-lined. Some banks do not want to invest; they do not wish to partner; they do not wish to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im attempting to combat here, and weve made very little, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that coalition building is very important. My voice only implies a lot, however the more I can bring good friends to the table and enhance that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement

Tell us about your business? (mission, partners, areas you operate in, main customers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everyone must have gain access to. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone.