Nucleostemin 3 (NS3) is an evolutionarily conserved protein with profound roles in cell growth and viability. Here we analyze cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous growth control roles of NS3 in Drosophila and demonstrate its GTPase activity using genetic and biochemical assays. Two null alleles of ns3, and RNAi, demonstrate the necessity of NS3 for cell autonomous growth. A hypomorphic allele highlights the hypersensitivity of neurons to lowered NS3 function. We propose that NS3 is the functional ortholog of yeast and human Lsg1, which promotes release of the nuclear export adapter from the large ribosomal subunit. Release of the adapter and its recycling to the nucleus are essential for sustained production of ribosomes. The ribosome biogenesis role of NS3 is essential for proper rates of translation in all tissues and is necessary for functions of growth-promoting neurons.