Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
Show us a recent success story.
We recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be constructing a $30 million, totally affordable and completely sustainable development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 property units, a coffee shop, a company center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
I think there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, people simply cant believe it.
The other thing that I believe is very important is we have an economic impact that resonates with individuals, and its a quite powerful message. Were aiming to cut utility costs for families in half. Thats a big offer, you know. That amount of money impacts the budget of everyday households
What difficulties do you face? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a business, any service, was going to be tough. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly difficult. When I go to banks and say that were building sustainable housing 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 dont want to partner; they dont wish to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im attempting to battle here, and weve made very little, incremental development. I think the lesson is that coalition structure is essential. My voice only indicates a lot, however the more I can bring good friends to the table and enhance that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installation features industry leaders and subjects connected to speeding up a fair and simply transition to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are growing in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets specialist with more than a years of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and property analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to integrate his knowledge and performance history of developing constant returns with an individual enthusiasm for helping transform neighborhoods and their influence on the world. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his influence 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 start your company?
I had 2 essential moments that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas costs, and she was just making 10 bucks an hour, so we couldnt afford the gas costs. A lot of people have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a good thing
The second turning point was probably 15 years ago, as I was working for a company that was investing in a host of things around the world. People were being available in to ask for a financial investment around renewable energy, and I postured a question to them: “What you are doing with these solar firms is amazing, and the expense of solar is coming down, but how does that assistance daily people?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their access? They are paying an out of proportion amount of their income on energy.” They looked confused that I would even attempt inquire about the everyday individuals. They said, “Well, you understand, low- and moderate-income households frequently reside in multi-family buildings, and it is difficult to get in contact with those building owners. If you can not get in contact with the structure owners, you need to get in touch with private households and the expense of getting those individuals informed and after that subscribing to eco-friendly energy is not a favorable service design.” I asked, “What if I owned the housing advancement and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to change the market permanently. So I quit my job. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I started my business. Because that is the unit number in the public real estate where I grew up, I named it 548 Capital. Whatever is I do is targeted to households in those circumstances and focused on improving their quality of life
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 valuable. Normalizing direct exposure, standing next to us and stating “these neighborhoods are worthwhile of investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can possible partners do organization with you?
We are likewise constantly prepared to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals when a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that historically havent had gain access to. Im always tough top executives to put their name and face on these efforts since I think that has real value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been terrific simply to satisfy the other Accelerate member business. I learned a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and finding out about individuals with totally different viewpoints. I enjoy the networking.
I believe 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 huge distinction.
Tell us about your business? (objective, partners, areas you operate in, main consumers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everyone needs to have access. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody.
I think there is constantly a shock when people discover who is behind our company. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals just cant think it. Putting people in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. We are likewise constantly prepared to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals when a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were using in communities that historically havent had gain access to.