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First Coast Connect

08/02/16: State Of Downtown Report; Human Trafficking; Robotics In Local Schools

 State of Downtown

The latest "State of Downtown" report from Downtown Vision, Inc. details how Jacksonville's city center has fared over the last year.

The last 18 months have seen new development projects, retail recruitment, changing demographics, and more in the urban core.

Downtown Vision, Inc. executive director Jake Gordon joins us to discuss the report and what the future could look like for downtown Jacksonville.

Human Trafficking

She was a victim of human trafficking by the time she was 15.

Alyssa Beck was twice held prisoner by men who forced her into prostitution. She was raped more times than she could count.

Today, Beck speaks on behalf of victims of human trafficking and works for several organizations that try to raise awareness of the problem.

And there are ongoing, deep-seated problems when it comes to the way the criminal justice system treats victims like Alyssa Beck.

 Florida Times-Union reporters Tessa Duvall and Larry Hannan examined Beck's story in a recent special investigation. We speak with them about human trafficking on the First Coast.

Robotics in Jacksonville Schools

The nonprofit Renaissance Jax has just received an increase in funding from Duval County Public Schools to expand robotics programs into all public middle schools in Jacksonville.

Andy Milluzzi, a senior mentor for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in Florida, has been working closely with Renaissance Jax on this expansion. He joins us to discuss getting students interested in engineering and science through robotics.

Sean Birch joined the WJCT team in late 2011 and was with the company until 2016.