Once an empty shell of its former self and still with a long path ahead to recovery, Melbourne's CBD economy is expected to grow by 16.9 per cent this year to reach $41 billion.
After a devastating year that included a four-month lockdown for the Victorian capital, which was among the world's longest, research by Deloitte Access Economics forecasts a $5.9 billion boost for the city's CBD economy in 2021.
At this rate the research produced for the City of Melbourne indicates the economy will be back at pre-COVID levels of approximately $74 billion by the second half of 2024.
The Deloitte research did not take into account restrictions in Melbourne in June 2021 or restrictions in Sydney in June and July 2021.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said quickening the city's economic recovery was her top priority.
"Many Melbourne businesses have been through the toughest trading conditions in living memory and need our ongoing support to bounce back and thrive again," the Lord Mayor said.
"The stronger our economic recovery is the more job opportunities there will be for Melburnians.
"A strong economy means Melbourne will continue to have growing finance and technology industries, vibrant cultural and hospitality industries and all the other experiences that make our city so marvellous."
CBD employment is forecast to bounce back as well, with 332,600 workers expected to be working in the city each day by 2025, only 5.5 per cent (or 19,700 workers) fewer than in 2019.
The Lord Mayor said while Melbourne was facing challenges such as work-from-home practices there were major economic opportunities on the horizon including the re-opening of Australia's borders and international students returning.
"We've all made sacrifices during the pandemic and it's time to be ambitious about a quick and strong recovery. I couldn't disagree more with those who say the city will never recover," the Lord Mayor said.
"With the right support, the city can grow into a $150 billion economy over the next decade."
City activation chair Roshena Campbell said the city's economic recovery was the council's key priority.
"With our Economic Development Strategy, the council has a strong plan for Melbourne to rebound from the pandemic. Avoiding lockdowns and ramping up vaccination rates will mean the city can recover faster than expected," Campell said.
"Prior to COVID-19, rental vacancies in the city were at record lows but there has never been a better time to start and grow a business in the city than right now.
"Competitive rents provide a fantastic opportunity to secure a CBD location for both start-ups and businesses looking to grow."
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