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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.

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Matt Olberding, Column Sig.

People love to read restaurant inspections.

When we run them on journalstar.com, they often are among the best-read items.

KOLN/KGIN (Channels 10/11) has for the past few months been doing a monthly feature on some of the worst offenders, and I'm assuming it's popular.

Now online review site Yelp has started to get into the game.

The company recently announced that it is adding restaurant inspection reports from across the country, thanks to a partnership with HDScores, a Phoenix company that has built a huge database of restaurant inspections from a large chunk of the U.S.

The bad news for local consumers -- and good news, perhaps, for local restaurants -- is that Nebraska inspections will not be included.

HDScores gets its data from government websites, but the Cornhusker State is one of five states -- Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico and Vermont are the others -- that does not post the data online, Glynne Townsend, chief marketing officer for HDScores, told the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper.

Looks like you'll have to stick to reading about them in the local media.

Google's impact on Nebraska

Google says in a recent report that it its economic effect on Nebraska grew by more than $1 billion in 2017.

The internet company said it generated $3.38 billion of economic activity for the state's businesses and nonprofits. That was up more than 45 percent from $2.33 billion in 2016.

To highlight its importance to Nebraska, Google highlighted two companies in the state, one of which was from Lincoln.

Speedway Motors was the Lincoln company featured, while the other was Sand Creek Post and Beam.

What I found interesting is how long Speedway has been selling its products on the internet. I think of Speedway as an automotive parts company and a real estate company, but I rarely think of them as an e-commerce company, which I should.

According to the Google profile, Speedway started selling online in 2000, "when they noticed consumer behavior shifting from catalog-based phone orders to online orders." That would have to put it among the pioneers for e-commerce in Lincoln.

The other company highlighted, Sand Creek Post and Beam, is based in Wayne.

The company, which sells customized barn kits, does 90 percent of its sales online, said General Manager Dave Bird.

Bird said the company's sales have doubled over the past five years, something that "wouldn't be possible without our online presence."

Do city's policies drive up home costs?

Lincoln has long been known as a city with restrictive growth policies. It is virtually impossible for developers to build subdivisions outside the city limits because they cannot hook up to the city's water or sewer systems unless they get annexed into the city.

Developers and home builders have complained for as long as I can remember that this constrains growth of new subdivisions and drives up the price of new housing.

Real estate website Zillow recently did a study that backs that up.

The study, which was released Aug. 2, showed that between 2010 and 2017, home values across the country increased by 14 percentage-points for every 10 percentage-point increase in jobs. In markets with the most restrictive regulations, home values grew 25 percentage-points for every 10 percentage-point increase in employment over that same time period.

In Lincoln, employment grew 10.3 percent during the 2010-2017 time period, according to the study, while home values rose 21.6 percent.

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:

Lincoln

* Second-best city in which to raise a family (Zumper.com)

* Fourth-best city for renters (SmartAsset.com)

13th-best city for outdoor space (Potsplantersandmore.com)

Nebraska

* Fourth-best state in which to start a business (Fitsmallbusiness.com)

* Seventh-happiest state in the nation (Magnifymymoney.com)

Best of the Buzz

Excerpts from recent Biz Buzz posts:

* Buffalo Wild Wings recently closed one of its Lincoln locations.

The Buffalo Wild Wings near 27th and Pine Lake Road closed July 29 after the landlord declined to renew its lease, according to a Facebook post from a regional manager.

The location had been open for 14 years.

* A new barbecue restaurant opened late last month, while a chain Chinese restaurant is planning a new location.

Mulberry BBQ by Single Barrel opened July 22 in the Belmont Shopping Center at 11th Street and Cornhusker Highway.

The restaurant, which is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sundays 11a.m.-3 p.m., joins Single Barrel's main restaurant at 10th and P streets and its New Orleans-themed satellite location in The Railyard.

Also, according to a building permit filed recently, Panda Express is planning a new location at 16th Street and Pine Lake Road, just to the west of Costco. Panera Bread also is planning a new location at the site.

Go to Journalstar.com/bizbuzz to read more Biz Buzz posts.

Have a business news tip? Send it to businessnews@journalstar.com.

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