AUGUSTA, Maine — The start of a new business grant program will be delayed one more day after the system that handles applications for the funding crashed.
Applications for the Tourism, Hospitality and Retail Recovery Grant Program were supposed to open Wednesday, but statewide power outages pushed the opening to Thursday.
Now, the system that handles applications for the program has sustained an outage, according to Kate Foye, a Department of Economic and Development spokesperson.
The state Department of Economic and Community Development said Thursday morning that the online portal to apply for the grant will now be available at 9 a.m. on Friday. The system is used by other states, which are also experiencing difficulties, according to the department. Foye did not name the system.
The new relief program aims to help retail and hospitality businesses that have been hard hit by the economic slowdown from the coronavirus pandemic. The program takes $30 million in existing funds left over from a $200 million small business grant program the state launched in August and adds $10 million in additional funding from an allotment Maine received through a March stimulus package.
The program is supposed to be available on a first-come, first served basis, and anyone who submitted an application before the crash should have received a confirmation email, the department said. Foye said a “significant” amount of funding was still available, although she did not know how many businesses had applied for funding before the application portal crashed. The crash is not expected to cause delays in awarding funds.
The new program evaluates need based on gross sales lost between March and September of this year compared to the same time period in 2019. Businesses with gross sales of more than $12 million a year are not eligible. The maximum grant amount is $20,000.
Gov. Janet Mills’ administration has already distributed about $158.6 million to 3,551 businesses and nonprofits through a previous business relief program. Maine has used nearly half of its coronavirus relief funds to provide business and community support, according to the state’s budget office. That amount is still less than what an economic panel advising Mills on how to help businesses during the pandemic recommended.