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Biz Bits: Down year for Nebraska venture capital funding

Biz Bits: Down year for Nebraska venture capital funding

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Business reporter

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

Lincoln and Nebraska as a whole have typically done a good job, at least compared with the region, in attracting venture capital.

But that was not the case last year, according to the latest State Funding Report for the Silicon Prairie released last week.

While the report showed that the amount of venture funding deployed in the region grew 34.5% last year, it plummeted in Nebraska.

The state only garnered $14.33 million in 2018, down 85% from 2017, and the lowest amount of any of the 14 states covered in the report.

The report noted that while Nebraska overperformed in 2017 thanks largely to one deal -- a $30 million investment in Hudl -- 2018's total was still below what was expected.

The report noted that the weakness seen in 2018 funding in Nebraska may be part of a trend of fewer companies receiving venture capital for the first time, referred to as "first fundings."

According to the report, there were 51 first fundings in the state from 2012-2015 but only 23 from 2016 through last year, including only six in 2018. A separate report on first fundings released last month shows that Lincoln has done better than Omaha, however.

Stephanie Luebbe of Nebraska Angels, a group that invests in early-stage companies, cautioned that because the report tracks venture dollars "deployed," it may not offer a "full picture of startup fundraising efforts."

Luebbe said the report may not capture all funding received from angel investors and state and federal grant programs.

As for the Nebraska Angels, Luebbe said the group funded 11 Midwest deals in 2018, which is double its average over the past seven years.

Where's the beef going?

Have you ever wondered how much beef and other products restaurant chains buy from Nebraska farmers and ranchers.

McDonald's has given a snapshot of how much it gets from the Cornhusker State.

The world's largest fast-food chain said in a report released last month that it purchased $180 million worth of goods from Nebraska ag producers in 2018.

The list: 85 million pounds of beef, 21 million pounds of flour, 23 million pounds of pork, 900,000 pounds of soybean oil and 2 million pounds of sugar.

State Sen. Steve Halloran said in a news release that, "we take great pride in the amount of beef our state provides to McDonald’s.”

Groceries' effect on economy

If you're more of a fan of getting your food from the grocery store, then you might want to know what kind of impact your dollars spent at supermarkets and other packaged goods retailers have on the state's economy.

Thankfully, the Grocery Manufacturers Association has you covered.

In a study released last month, the industry group reported that the consumer packaged goods industry supports 1.1 million jobs in the U.S. and contributes $2 trillion to the country's gross domestic product. 

In Nebraska, those numbers are 259,000 jobs supported and $25.1 billion added to the state GDP. In fact, the consumer packaged goods industry supports 1 in 5 Nebraska jobs.

In the First Congressional District, the industry supports 84,000 jobs and contributes $7.7 billion to GDP, according to the study.

Listing the lists

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

* Third-best city to drive in (WalletHub)

* 10th-best state capital to live in (SmartAsset)

Best of the Buzz

Excerpts from recent Biz Buzz posts:

* Zesto's south location at 15th and Pine Lake Road, which had been open since 2003, closed at the end of August.

The company posted on its Facebook page that it was unable to find a buyer for the location and the lease is expiring.

Zesto's location at 11th and South streets will remain open until its seasonal closure in November.

* Teriyaki Madness closed its doors sometime in August.

The restaurant, which specialized in Teriyaki dishes and noodle bowls, opened at 2801 Pine Lake Road in April 2016.

Go to to read more Biz Buzz posts.

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Business reporter

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

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