Plan, Preserve, Play: Statewide Tourism and Recreational Water Access and Resource Sustainability (STAR WARS)

SB Friedman supported the State of Nebraska to define visions and priority public investments in three different areas of the state. The study focused on tourism, water access and economic development in the Lake McConaughy, Niobrara River and Lower Platte River Areas.

The goal of the study was to identify state capital investments that will catalyze tourism and economic development, retain and grow the population, and add employment in the three different study areas, as well as mitigate flooding in the Lower Platte River study area.

Working as part of a consulting team led by HDR, SB Friedman provided a market assessment for each study area to inform potential “game-changing” investments. The market assessments included:

  • Demographic and employment analyses for each region;
  • Economic cluster analyses;
  • Assessments of existing conditions including tourism and attractions;
  • Developing case studies of aspirational destinations; and
  • Identifying potential state investments in tourism attractions, lodging and housing with comparable examples.

Results: SB Friedman completed the market assessments for all three study areas in 2021. We also attended design workshops for the Lake McConaughy and Niobrara River Areas. The team’s final report was submitted in 2021 and has been presented to the Governor. The STAR WARS Committee identified certain priority projects for additional study in early 2022. In partnership with specialized subconsultants, the consultant team continued to support the STAR WARS Committee by further evaluating the feasibility of a hotel and event center in the Niobrara study area.