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

Share with us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to announce that we will be developing a $30 million, completely cost effective and totally sustainable development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 domestic units, a cafe, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will broaden solar-powered use in the city
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What impact are you making?
When individuals discover who is behind our company, I think there is always a shock. Even in our own neighborhoods, people just cant believe it. To me, thats pretty satisfying. Individuals seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is essential is we have an economic effect that resonates with people, and its a pretty effective message. That quantity of cash effects the budget plan of daily households
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What challenges do you deal with? Why?
You cant avoid the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning a business, any organization, was going to be challenging. With that stated, 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 neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks dont want to invest; they do not wish to partner; they dont wish to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im trying to combat here, and weve made extremely small, incremental development. I think the lesson is that coalition structure is necessary. My voice only implies a lot, however the more I can bring friends to the table and enhance that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need
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Tell us about your business? (objective, partners, areas you operate in, main clients, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all families, everybody should have access. Someone, some entity, has to work as the bridge so that those innovations reach everyone. Thats what my mission is, and luckily we are growing. We are presently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be announcing some brand-new locations this fall
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I believe there is constantly a shock when people discover who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant think it. Putting people in rooms 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 technology we are putting in these communities. We host individuals once a week at our building so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that historically havent had gain access to.

So what can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting individuals in rooms together so everybody can share notes is constantly valuable. Normalizing exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods are worthy of financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
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How can prospective partners work with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are always looking for partners to invest, provide debt or buy some tax credits, thats the very first ask. We are also constantly ready 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 when a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in communities that historically have not had gain access to. We are likewise going to be broadening our board. Im constantly tough top executives to put their name and face on these efforts because I think that has genuine value
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How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been excellent just to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and learning more about individuals with absolutely various perspectives. I love the networking.
I think we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, and that ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a big difference.
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By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Photo thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installment features market leaders and subjects associated with accelerating an equitable and simply transition to a sustainable energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how 3 Black-owned Accelerate member companies are prospering in the renewable resource 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. established 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his knowledge and performance history of developing constant returns with a personal enthusiasm for helping change neighborhoods and their effect on the planet. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect 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 start your company?
I had 2 turning points that made me jump. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas bill, and she was just making 10 bucks an hour, so we couldnt pay for the gas expense. Therefore, unfortunately, we had our gas and heat turned off. For roughly a year in my teenagers, we needed to boil water and carry it as much as a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively bumpy rides, and experiences like that just stick to you. I dont care what happens the rest of your career or what your quality of life is progressing; those minutes are with you forever. As I discuss that with different groups around the country, it has actually ended up being clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, whichs not a great thing
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The second turning point 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 being available in to request a financial investment around sustainable energy, and I postured a concern to them: “What you are making with these solar companies is incredible, and the cost of solar is coming down, but how does that aid everyday individuals?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their gain access to? They are paying an out of proportion quantity of their earnings on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even dare inquire about the everyday individuals. They said, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income families frequently live in multi-family structures, and it is hard to get in contact with those building owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you need to get in touch with private households and the cost of getting those individuals educated and after that signing up for sustainable energy is not a beneficial service model.” I asked, “What if I owned the real estate development and the solar?” And they stated, whoever does that is going to alter the marketplace forever. I quit my job. I think I kipped down my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I started my company. I called it 548 Capital since that is the system number in the general public housing where I grew up. Everything is I do is targeted to households in those circumstances and focused on enhancing their quality of life
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