A passionate conversation about the Miami startup scene began on Twitter last month after a Bay Area venture capitalist tweeted,  and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez responded,

South Florida has been hailed from time to time in the past as a growing tech economy, says Adam Garfield, CEO and co-founder of SpeedETab, a provider of delivery and marketing services for restaurants, but the place didn't have a firm base yet to support it. "Does it have legs behind it now? I think it absolutely does," he says. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area ranked No. 16 in the U.S. for venture capital deal volume and value, with 135 deals and $1 billion invested last year through early December, according to PitchBook, a financial data and software company based in Seattle. Bruno Lulinski, director of investment at Miami Angels, says he sees "exponential growth" for the Miami startup ecosystem in 2021, especially for local ventures. And coming soon in Miami's downtown: the Flagler district, a revitalized neighborhood to attract startups, art, and culture, from billionaire Moishe Mana of tech-hub developer Mana Tech. 

Local leaders, however, also look to temper any hype. "It's really important we're cautious about blurring the line between venture capitalists moving to South Florida and actual dollars investing in local startups," says Maria Dominguez, site director of CIC Miami, a co-working, laboratory, entrepreneurial space. Success, she says, depends on newcomers' commitment to Miami and its diverse population. Companies that make Miami home will benefit from its diverse consumer and talent markets. More than half of the city's residents were born outside of the U.S., according to a 2018 count. "Miami looks like what most cities will look like in the next five to 10 years," Buchanan says. "If you're building a company for the future, the future of America is in Miami." 

Prominent stakeholders in the community are taking steps to shape the texture of the future tech scene. In January, they released a manifesto on promoting inclusion in the tech startup ecosystem. At a recent town hall meeting, Michelle Abbs, managing director at Mana Tech, rejected the "new Bay Area" premise. "We are not replicating anything else," she said. "We are building something completely new and aspirational."

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the name and purpose of Leigh-Ann Buchanan's employer and her role there. She is president of aīre ventures, a nonprofit consulting firm making tech ecosystems more inclusive, formerly known as Venture Café Miami.