Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
Inform us about your company? (objective, partners, areas you operate in, main customers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations available for all: all communities, all households, everyone should have gain access to. Someone, some entity, needs to work as the bridge so that those technologies reach everybody. Thats what my mission is, and thankfully we are growing. We are presently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be announcing some new places this fall
I think there is constantly a shock when individuals learn who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people just cant think it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everyone can share notes is constantly valuable. We are likewise always willing to host people 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 technology that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had access.
So what can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in rooms together so everybody can share notes is always important. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods are worthy of financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can prospective partners do business with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are always trying to find partners to invest, provide financial obligation or purchase some tax credits, thats the first ask. We are also constantly happy to host individuals if they want to see a few of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. This is not exclusive; its an open book. We host individuals as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that historically have not had access. We are also going to be expanding our board. Due to the fact that I believe that has genuine worth, Im always tough leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been excellent just to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and discovering individuals with absolutely different perspectives. I love the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Just knowing that it exists, which ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a huge distinction.
Share with us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, totally economical and totally sustainable development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 property units, a cafe, a service center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered use in the city
What impact are you making?
When people discover who is behind our company, I think there is constantly a shock. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant believe it. To me, thats quite gratifying. Individuals seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is essential is we have a financial effect that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty effective message. That amount of money impacts the budget of daily households
What challenges do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a business, any company, was going to be challenging. With that said, access to capital is ungodly tough. 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 wrong language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks do not wish to invest; they dont want to partner; they dont desire to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im trying to fight here, and weve made really small, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that coalition building is crucial. My voice only suggests a lot, but the more I can bring buddies to the table and magnify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture courtesy of 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 installment includes industry leaders and subjects associated with speeding up an equitable and simply transition to an eco-friendly energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are thriving in the sustainable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, 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. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his proficiency and performance history of creating consistent returns with a personal enthusiasm for helping change neighborhoods and their impact on the world. In 2019, Patton was named 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 begin your company?
I had 2 pivotal minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mother got a $400 gas bill, and she was just making 10 bucks an hour, so we couldnt afford the gas expense. And so, sadly, we had our gas and heat shut off. For roughly a year in my teenagers, we needed to boil water and carry it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively difficult times, and experiences like that simply stick to you. I dont care what happens the rest of your profession or what your lifestyle is moving forward; those minutes are with you permanently. As I talk about that with various groups around the nation, it has actually become clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A great deal of individuals have similar anecdotes, whichs not an advantage
The second turning point was probably 15 years ago, as I was working for a firm that was purchasing a host of things worldwide. People were can be found in to request a financial investment around renewable energy, and I postured a concern to them: “What you are doing with these solar companies is incredible, and the cost of solar is coming down, however how does that help everyday individuals?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their access? They are paying an out of proportion quantity of their income on energy.” They looked confused that I would even dare inquire about the everyday individuals. They stated, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income families often live in multi-family buildings, and it is tough to get in contact with those constructing owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you need to contact private families and the cost of getting those people educated and after that registering for sustainable energy is not a favorable business model.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the housing development and the solar?” And they stated, whoever does that is going to change the market forever. So I quit my task. I think I turned in my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I started my company. 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 households in those scenarios and concentrated on enhancing their quality of life