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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.


Brian Ebling pulls spent grains from mash tun at Green Flash Brewing Co. earlier this month. Craft beer sales in Nebraska hit nearly 1.5 million gallons last year, and new breweries, such as Green Flash, are likely to keep that number growing

I've written quite a bit about craft beer over the past few years, as the industry has really taken off locally.

Much of the reporting has focused on the growth in the number of breweries in Lincoln and Nebraska, which have more than doubled in just the past five years.

One thing I haven't done much reporting on is the amount of craft beer actually sold, largely because it has been difficult to find such a number.

However, I noticed recently that the Nebraska Craft Brewers Guild has posted sales figures on the homepage of its website,

According to the information posted there, the state fell just short of the 1.5-million-gallon mark in 2017, with sales coming in at more than 1.46 million.

For context of how fast those sales are growing, that's more than twice the amount sold in 2013 and more than three times the amount sold in 2010.

With Green Flash opening its brewing location in Lincoln and June, Cosmic Eye set to open its brewery soon and several other locations around the state either already opened or coming online in the next few months, I expect that number to keep climbing.

Younkers coming back — sort of

Younkers, which closed its door in Lincoln and elsewhere last month, may be coming back — in name only.

A company called CSC Generation Holdings paid $900,000 in a bankruptcy auction for the intellectual property of Younkers parent company Bon-Ton Stores.

That included the Younkers name as well as other store names owned by Bon-Ton, including Herberger's, which had stores in smaller Nebraska cities.

According to various media reports, CSC plans to revive the Bon-Ton Stores online operation and sell merchandise online. The company also said it plans to reopen a limited number of locations.

Unfortunately for Younkers fans, it does not look like any of those locations will be nearby. CSC apparently is only considering five states for brick-and-mortar locations: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Fewer women in business

The Journal Star this past week held its annual Inspire Awards to honor women for their leadership contributions in business, education, government and the non-profit world.

Some of Lincoln's most important companies — Ameritas, Bryan Health, the Journal Star, Zoetis — are led by women. The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Business also both are headed up by women.

However, those achievements at large, established companies and organizations mask the fact that overall across the state the number of women owning their own businesses is not keeping pace with the rest of the nation.

According to annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express, the growth in women-owned firms in Nebraska is much slower than the rest of the country.

According to the report, released last month, there are approximately 54,000 women-owned firms in the state, which is down 2.5 percent from last year and up about 32 percent since 2002.

Nationally, the number of women-owned firms grew 5.7 percent last year and is up 57.6 percent since 2002.

Sales at women-owned businesses also have lagged the rest of the country. This year, sales are down an estimated 0.7 percent, and they have grown only about 10 percent total since 2002. Nationally, sales are up 5.6 percent this year and more than 46 percent since 2002.

The news is even worse when it comes to the number of people employed at businesses that are owned by women.

That number is currently estimated to be about 44,600, which is the same as last year. But that's actually a 4.5 percent decrease since 2002. That ranks Nebraska 49th out of 50 states for employment growth at women-owned firms.

Ranking the rankings

Regular readers of this column know I sometimes like to end it with a rundown of recent high rankings of Lincoln and/or Nebraska in national reports. Here are the latest ones:

* Second-Most Affordable College Town (

* Fourth-Most Affordable College Town for Renters (Apartment Guide)

* Seventh-Most Livable State Capital (SmartAsset)

Best of the Buzz

An excerpt from a recent Biz Buzz post:

* The Capriotti's sandwich shop at 27th Street and Old Cheney Road closed sometime late last month.

Its Facebook page lists it as permanently closed, and the location is no longer listed on the Capriotti's website.

That location, which was on at least its second owner, opened in July 2015. Another Capriotti's that opened downtown in the Latitude building at 11th and N streets in 2016 closed after only six months.

9 Lincoln breweries to check out

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