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After two years as bridesmaid, Central Otago topped the country with the best-performing economy last year.
Central Otago district councillors heard yesterday the latest Berl (Business and Economic Research Ltd) report ranked the district the best of 72 territorial local authority economies for 2008.
In 2007, Central Otago was ranked second behind Tauranga City, and in 2006 it was beaten by the Queenstown-Lakes and Selwyn districts, which shared top honours. .
The Berl report gave equal weight to four key performance indicators to determine the top achievers - population, employment, GDP and business unit growth.
Four of the top 10 economies were in the South Island and Central Otago's dominance was due to it having the fastest employment growth rate in the country as well as the fourth fastest growth in business numbers, the 10th fastest increase in population and the 17th quickest rise in GDP.
"This is encouraging for us and emphasises how strong our economy was," Central Otago mayor Malcolm Macpherson said.
"However, the key part to remember is that it's old news; it's how our economy was, not how it is in the current situation.
"However, it is encouraging and there's cause for optimism.
It gives us confidence that we can weather the current storm better than most, hopefully," Dr Macpherson said.
The Berl report said the Queenstown-Lakes district was once again the economy with the strongest population growth.
Top 10 economies
1. Central Otago
8. Kapiti Coast
9. New Plymouth