Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.
Tell us about your business? (objective, partners, areas you run in, primary customers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies available for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everybody should have gain access to. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone.
Share with us a current success story.
We recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be constructing a $30 million, entirely sustainable and totally budget-friendly advancement, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 residential units, a coffee bar, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered use in the city
What impact are you making?
When people discover who is behind our business, I think there is constantly a shock. Even in our own neighborhoods, individuals simply cant think it. To me, thats pretty fulfilling. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I believe is important is we have a financial impact that resonates with people, and its a pretty effective message. That amount of money effects the budget of everyday households
What difficulties do you face? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning a service, any service, was going to be challenging. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly challenging. When I go to banks and say that were building sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks dont want to invest; they dont wish to partner; they do not desire to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im attempting to combat here, and weve made very small, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that union building is necessary. My voice just indicates so much, however the more I can bring buddies to the table and amplify that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement
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 always valuable. Stabilizing direct exposure, standing next to us and saying “these communities are deserving of financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can possible partners work with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are always trying to find partners to invest, use financial obligation or buy some tax credits, thats the very first ask. We are likewise constantly ready to host individuals if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host individuals once a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in communities that historically havent had gain access to. We are likewise going to be expanding our board. Im always tough top executives to put their name and face on these efforts because I think that has genuine value
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been great just to meet the other Accelerate member companies. I found out a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and learning more about people with completely various perspectives. I love the networking.
I believe we are doing the finest we can do in the COVID environment. Just understanding that it exists, and that ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a big difference.
I believe there is always 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 everyone can share notes is always important. We are likewise constantly ready 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 structure so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that historically have not had access.
By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment features industry leaders and topics connected to speeding up an equitable and just transition to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August functions highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are thriving in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets specialist with more than a years of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and realty analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his proficiency and track record of creating constant returns with an individual enthusiasm for helping transform communities and their effect on the world. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect 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 begin your business?
I had two pivotal minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas costs, and she was just making ten dollars an hour, so we could not afford the gas expense. A lot of people have similar anecdotes, and thats not an excellent thing
The second essential moment was most likely 15 years back, as I was working for a company that was purchasing a host of things all over the world. People were being available in to request for a financial investment around eco-friendly energy, and I presented a question to them: “What you are finishing with these solar companies is spectacular, and the expense of solar is boiling down, however how does that aid daily people?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their access? They are paying a disproportionate amount of their earnings on energy.” They looked confused that I would even dare inquire about the everyday individuals. They said, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income households typically live 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 building owners, you have to get in touch with individual families and the expense of getting those individuals informed and after that subscribing to sustainable energy is not a beneficial 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 alter the market forever. So I stopped my job. I think I kipped down my resignation within six months of that discussion, and I started my company. I named it 548 Capital since that is the unit number in the public housing where I matured. So everything is I do is targeted to households in those situations and concentrated on improving their quality of life