Undergraduate Research Journal


A whitewater park is an alteration of a streambed to produce whitewater waves and rapids. These parks are becoming a popular development feature in communities that have existing waterways and rivers. The City of Kearney has two waterways under consideration with suitable hydrology requirements for an operational whitewater park. Understanding the market feasibility and the economic impact provided by a whitewater park is important information to have available for project stakeholders and contributors which created the need for this study. Through this research, comparable park economic impact studies and regional market sentiments were analyzed to quantify the relative economic benefits and to identify if a whitewater park course would be a suitable development for the City of Kearney. The hypothesis for this study is that if a whitewater park were to be constructed, the City of Kearney would realize an increase in annual visitors, industry specific sales, property values, and fiscal collections, which will lead to an increased quality of life for its citizens. To conduct this research, analyses were divided into two main sections including a market study and an economic impact analysis. The market study investigates watersport demographics, survey/interview data, and comparable whitewater park research. The economic impact analysis quantifies the number of annual participants, identifies relative spending amounts, and estimates spending among five different industries – these different estimates provided the information required to generate an economic impact and to calculate new tax collections (fiscal impact). By examining these above factors, the results indicate that a whitewater park would generate a positive economic impact, however the relative impacts were less than expected given conservative methodologies used.



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