Yalamanchi seeks seat on OCC board

Ravi Yalamanchi

With one year remaining on his second term on Rochester Hills City Council, Ravi Yalamanchi is running for a seat on the Oakland Community College Board of Trustees.

Under the city charter, Yalamanchi is term limited after two consecutive full terms. He is one of 13 candidates in the countywide race. If elected, his council and college terms would overlap by one year. “It really would not be an issue,” he said.

A native of India, Yalamanchi, 55, moved to the US in 1983. He has a law degree, an MBA and is a certified planner. A 14-year city resident, he was elected to city council in 2005 and 2009 to represent District One.

Yalamanchi has 27 years of experience in housing and community and economic development. He currently serves as CEO of the nonprofit Metro Community Development, which is dedicated to expanding housing and community-development initiatives in Flint and Genesee County.

With a daughter in college and a career spent helping people connect with opportunity, Yalamanchi said he fears that college is becoming more and more out of reach. “I get concerned that many may choose not to pursue education,” he said. “Community college is a real doorway.”

Through his work in Flint, he has seen how partnerships between colleges and business, such as internships, can open doors.

“Most coming to community college, if not all, I think, have a part-time job,” he said. “I think a lot of shortage is coming in the trades. So engaging them in those fields at a very early age is a conversation I’ve been part of. … That’s how I think you can create more of an alignment with the job market.”

Whereas in the past the auto companies and their suppliers expected to train their own employees, “The dynamics from 20-30 years ago has completely changed,” Yalamanchi said. “You need an educated workforce.” With economic forces driving down prices, “Employers will not train,” he said. “If kids in 11th, 12th grade and community college engage in the actual training of the trade … that would be the best way.”

While on city council, Yalamanchi has been a consistent voice for controlling spending and differentiating the role of government from that of the private sector. In this case, however, he says, “We should not go on ideology.” He sees an opportunity for the state, if it can meet the challenge.

“There is a shortage right now; you cannot get good contractors,” he said. “In order to run a machine, you need to understand the keypad in front of it. … You need some technical skills to get into the job.”

Yalamanchi said he believes colleges and universities are doing their best to control costs. “At the same time, I would say we have to think creatively,” he said. He cites a high dropout rate after the freshman year of college. “The cost of education is definitely adding a burden for many, which is turning them off.”

In addition to Yalamanchi, the candidates for the OCC Board of Trustees are: Pamala Davis of Clawson, Clay Jansson of Milford, David Kniffen of Royal Oak, Gillian Levy of Birmingham, Olga Meyer of West Bloomfield, Christine O’Sullivan of Troy, Angela River of Auburn Hills, Latrecia Scott of Farmington Hills, E. Wadsworth Sherrod III of West Bloomfield, Randy Ston of Commerce, Steve Thomas of Waterford and David Trott of Birmingham.

With so many candidates in the Nov. 6 race, Yalamanchi said he’s working hard for name recognition. “I’m doing a lot of person-to-person contacting,” he said. “The one thing is to work hard and get the name out.”

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