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 joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, completely inexpensive and totally sustainable development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 domestic units, a coffee bar, 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 discover who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, individuals simply cant believe it. To me, thats pretty gratifying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is crucial is we have a financial effect that resonates with people, and its a quite powerful message. That amount of cash impacts the budget plan of everyday households
What difficulties do you face? Why?
You cant avoid the grind. Let me acknowledge that starting a business, any service, was going to be challenging. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly hard. When I go to banks and state that were constructing sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income communities, they take a look at me like Ive spoken the incorrect language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks dont wish to invest; they do not desire to partner; they dont wish to do their share. It is a battle of generational size that Im trying to combat here, and weve made really little, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that coalition structure is essential. My voice just indicates so much, however the more I can bring friends to the table and amplify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the need
Inform us about your company? (objective, partners, regions you operate in, main consumers, etc.).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all communities, all families, everyone ought to have access. Somebody, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody.
So what can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly valuable. Normalizing exposure, standing next to us and stating “these communities are worthy of financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can possible partners do company with you?
We are likewise constantly prepared to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had access. Im always challenging top executives to put their name and face on these efforts since I think that has genuine value
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been terrific simply to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and learning more about people with totally different point of views. I love the networking.
I think we are doing the finest 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 difference.
I believe there is always a shock when individuals learn who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, individuals simply cant believe it. Putting individuals in rooms together so everyone can share notes is constantly important. We are likewise constantly willing to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. We host individuals when a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had access.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is happy to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installment features industry leaders and subjects connected to accelerating a fair and simply shift to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are prospering in the eco-friendly energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets specialist with more than a decade of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his competence and performance history of creating consistent returns with an individual enthusiasm for helping change neighborhoods and their effect on the world. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his impact on Americas transition 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 start your company?
I had two turning points that made me jump. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas expense, and she was only making ten bucks an hour, so we couldnt pay for the gas expense. And so, unfortunately, we had our gas and heat shut off. For roughly a year in my teenagers, we needed to boil water and carry it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were uniquely difficult times, and experiences like that just stick with you. I do not care what takes place the rest of your profession or what your quality of life is moving on; those moments are with you forever. As I discuss that with different groups around the nation, it has become clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A great deal of people have similar anecdotes, whichs not an advantage
The second critical moment was most likely 15 years earlier, as I was working for a firm that was purchasing a host of things worldwide. People were being available in to ask for a financial investment around eco-friendly energy, and I presented a question to them: “What you are finishing with these solar firms is spectacular, and the expense of solar is boiling down, however how does that aid daily individuals?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their gain access to? They are paying a disproportionate quantity of their earnings on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even attempt inquire about the everyday individuals. They said, “Well, you understand, low- and moderate-income families typically live in multi-family buildings, and it is tough to get in contact with those building owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you have to get in touch with private families and the expense of getting those people educated and after that signing up for renewable resource is not a favorable business model.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the real estate development and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to change the market forever. So I quit my job. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I began my business. Since that is the system number in the public real estate where I grew up, I called it 548 Capital. So everything is I do is targeted to families in those situations and focused on improving their quality of life