Inc. Magazine — in an article, “Top 25 Places to Do Business,” released yesterday (Feb. 10) for its March 2004 issue — has ranked Fresno fourth nationally among mid¬range cities.

The writer, Joel Kotkin, renowned author and speaker, will be in Fresno on March 3 to address The Business Executive Breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Pardini’s in Fresno.

The event is sponsored by three California State University, Fresno programs: University Business Center, the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Craig MBA Program; as well as The Business Journal; Baker, Manock and Jensen Law Firm; the Fresno Business Council; Sherwood, Lehman, Massuco; and KJWL 99.3 FM.

Kotkin’s topic will be “Getting Real About The Valley; A Look Beyond Conventional Wisdom.”

A senior fellow at the Davenport Institute for Public Policy at Pepperdine University. Kotkin is a widely acclaimed speaker and futurist, he consults for many leading economic development organizations, private companies, regions and cities.

His Inc. article is based on rolling averages of U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics “state and area” unadjusted employment data from January 1993 to September 1993.

The method, Kotkin wrote, uses “a brand-new methodology that we believe to be the most objective, reliable system used anywhere for ranking fertile ground for companies” and were compiled by David Friedman.

Kotkin cites a Fresno economy driven by “real estate affordability and population growth, but here it’s spurred on by Latino and Asian immigration.”

Fresno was bested by No. 1 Green Bay, WI; No. 2, Madison, WI; and No. 3, Sarasota, Fla.

Bakersfield ranked sixth, Modesto tenth; and Stockton, eleventh.

“For the most part, the top cities aren’t found on the fashionable coasts, nor in the biggest, most famous metro areas, but in more prosaic places, including many in the Midwest, that found a way to grow in a tough economy and now seem poised for rapid expansion as the recovery comes in,” Kotkin noted.

Kotkin is the author of “The New Geography: How the Digital Revolution Is Reshaping the American Landscape.”

He is not a believer in conventional wisdom or economic development fads, indicated by his absence of enthusiasm for the Starbucks quotient, cluster-based economic development or the so-called “creativity craze.”

Instead, Kotkin maintains a “place-based” economy – one that attracts and retains a knowledge workforce – defines the city that flourishes or the city that faces an economic oblivion.

Based on an interview with Lance Donny, CEO of the Fresno-based software service firm Brightcode, “Even perennial hard cases such as Fresno have become attractive to knowledge workers,” the Inc. article said.

Tickets for the Business Journal Executive Breakfast are $35 in advance. Reservations may be made by calling Connie McNeely at (559) 490-3441 or obtain a form placed in the Business Journal, that may be faxed.