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

Inform us about your company? (mission, partners, areas you run in, primary consumers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations available for all: all communities, all families, everyone needs to have access. Someone, some entity, needs to work as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone. Thats what my mission is, and fortunately we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be announcing some new locations this fall
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I think there is always a shock when individuals learn who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant believe it. Putting people in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. We are also constantly willing to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. We host people as soon as a week at our building so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had access.

Show us a recent success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to announce that we will be building a $30 million, totally affordable and entirely sustainable development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential systems, a cafe, an organization center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
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What impact are you making?
When individuals learn who is behind our company, I think there is constantly a shock. Even in our own communities, people simply cant believe it. To me, thats pretty gratifying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is important is we have a financial impact that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty effective message. That quantity of cash impacts the budget of everyday households
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What difficulties do you face? Why?
When I go to banks and say that were constructing 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. I believe the lesson is that coalition building is crucial.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the third installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installation features industry leaders and subjects connected to speeding up an equitable and simply transition to a renewable energy economy. In acknowledgment of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are flourishing in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a decade of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and real estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his knowledge and track record of producing consistent returns with a personal passion for assisting transform neighborhoods and their influence 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 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 2 critical minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mother got 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 a good thing
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They looked puzzled that I would even dare ask about the everyday individuals. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I started my company. I called it 548 Capital since that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up.

So what can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is constantly important. Stabilizing exposure, standing next to us and saying “these communities are deserving of investment”– you cant put a worth on that
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How can potential partners work with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are always searching for partners to invest, use debt or buy some tax credits, thats the first ask. We are likewise constantly happy to host people if they wish to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. This is not exclusive; its an open book. We host people as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in communities that historically havent had access. We are also going to be broadening our board. Since I think that has genuine worth, Im always difficult top executives to put their name and face on these efforts
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How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been fantastic simply to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I discovered a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and discovering individuals with absolutely various viewpoints. I love 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 intentional about the program, makes a big difference.
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