AN ECONOMIC strategy will help guide Bendigo's future by outlining key priorities and challenges for the region.
City of Greater Bendigo councillors will this week vote on the draft Economic Development Strategy for Greater Bendigo.
Bendigo is now the third largest concentrated economic base in Victoria behind Melbourne and Geelong, with an annual Gross Regional Product (GRP) of more than $5.1 billion in 2012.
The GRP grew by $1.3 billion from 2002 to 2012 at a rate of 3.4 per cent - which was the fastest growth of any regional city.
Greater Bendigo has also seen its unemployment rate fall from heights of about 11 per cent in 1998 to as low as 4.9 per cent in 2012.
The draft strategy details several aims for the region, including the completion of the Bendigo Airport redevelopment and the new Bendigo Hospital, the development and maintenance of safe reliable road freight networks, extension of natural gas supply networks to Huntly, Heathcote and Marong and attraction of further high-standard hotel accommodation in central Bendigo and Heathcote.
It also outlines development in education and training, business support and investment attraction and liveability.
However the report acknowledges that future economic growth is "far from guaranteed".
It lists several key challenges and threats to the success of the strategy.
These include a reversal of state and federal government funding, economic factors, and the "potential for major reputational damage of Bendigo stemming from sustained adverse media publicity".
It also outlined several current issues, including an emerging shortage of quality, serviced, well-buffered industrial land supply, continued shortages in the provision and diversity of quality rental and owner occupied housing and acute shortages of skilled personnel in a range of vital industries and sectors.