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

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

I think there is constantly a shock when people learn who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant believe it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everybody can share notes is constantly valuable. We are also always ready to host individuals 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 innovation that were applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had access.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is happy to share the 3rd installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installment includes market leaders and topics related to accelerating 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 business are prospering in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a years of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his know-how and track record of producing constant returns with a personal passion for assisting transform neighborhoods and their impact on the planet. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect on Americas shift to a clean economy.
LEARNT 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 two critical minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas expense, and she was only making 10 bucks an hour, so we could not manage the gas bill. A lot of individuals have similar anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
The 2nd critical minute was most likely 15 years back, as I was working for a firm that was investing in a host of things around the globe. Individuals were can be found in to ask for a financial investment around sustainable energy, and I positioned a question to them: “What you are doing with these solar companies is amazing, and the expense of solar is boiling down, but how does that aid everyday people?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their gain access to? They are paying a disproportionate amount of their earnings on energy.” They looked confused that I would even dare ask about the everyday people. They stated, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income households frequently live in multi-family buildings, and it is hard to get in contact with those constructing owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you have to call individual households and the expense of getting those individuals educated and after that signing up for renewable energy is not a favorable company model.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the real estate advancement and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to change the marketplace forever. So I stopped my task. I believe I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I started my company. Since that is the system number in the public housing where I grew up, I called it 548 Capital. Everything is I do is targeted to households in those circumstances and focused on enhancing their quality of life

Show us a recent success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to announce that we will be constructing a $30 million, completely budget friendly and entirely sustainable advancement, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 domestic units, a coffee store, a company 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 always a shock when individuals learn who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals simply cant believe it.
The other thing that I think is necessary is we have a financial impact that resonates with people, and its a pretty effective message. Were intending to cut energy costs for households in half. Thats a huge deal, you know. That quantity of cash impacts the spending plan of everyday families
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning a company, any organization, was going to be hard. With that said, 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 look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These communities are still being red-lined. Some banks dont desire to invest; they do not desire to partner; they dont want to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im attempting to eliminate here, and weve made really small, incremental progress. I believe the lesson is that coalition building is necessary. My voice only indicates so much, however the more I can bring friends to the table and magnify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement

What can companies 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. Normalizing exposure, standing next to us and stating “these communities are deserving of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can prospective partners work with you?
Today, we are Chicago-focused. We are constantly searching for partners to invest, offer financial obligation or buy some tax credits, thats the very first ask. We are likewise constantly going 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 people as soon as a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that traditionally havent had gain access to. We are also going to be expanding our board. Im constantly tough leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I think that has genuine value
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been fantastic simply to fulfill the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and finding out about people with totally various point of views. I like the networking.
I believe we are doing the best 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 distinction.