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

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo 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 series.
Each installment features market 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 eco-friendly energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets specialist with more than a years of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and real estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his knowledge and performance history of creating constant returns with an individual enthusiasm for assisting change communities and their influence on the world. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his impact on Americas transition to a tidy 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 pivotal minutes that made me jump. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas costs, and she was only making ten bucks an hour, so we couldnt pay for the gas costs. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
They looked confused that I would even attempt ask about the everyday individuals. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I started my business. I named it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the public housing where I grew up.

So what can organizations 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 constantly valuable. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing next to us and stating “these neighborhoods are worthwhile of financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can potential partners work with you?
We are likewise always prepared to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation 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 using in neighborhoods that historically havent had gain access to. Im constantly difficult top executives to put their name and face on these efforts because I think that has real worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been great simply to fulfill the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and learning more about people with absolutely various 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 intentional about the program, makes a big difference.

Tell us about your company? (objective, partners, areas you run in, main consumers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everybody should have gain access to. Somebody, some entity, has to function as the bridge so that those innovations reach everyone. Thats what my mission is, and fortunately we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, but we will be revealing some brand-new locations this fall

Share with us a recent success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, entirely sustainable and completely cost effective development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 domestic systems, a cafe, a service center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
When individuals discover who is behind our company, I believe there is always a shock. Even in our own communities, people simply cant think it. To me, thats quite rewarding. Individuals seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is essential is we have a financial impact that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty powerful message. Were intending to cut utility expenditures for families in half. Thats a huge offer, you understand. That amount of money impacts the budget of everyday families
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and state 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 think the lesson is that union structure is essential.

I believe there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, people just cant believe it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always important. We are likewise always prepared to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people once a week at our building so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that historically have not had access.

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