The online portal where the state’s hospitality and tourism businesses can apply for grants collapsed just after it was opened to applications Thursday morning.

Hospitality, tourism and entertainment companies can receive up to $20,000 in Economic Recovery Grant funds that are part of a $40 million relief package Gov. Janet Mills unveiled this week.

Business owners began experiencing problems after the online portal opened 9 a.m. Thursday. Some applicants, contacting the state through Facebook, said they started applications when the portal opened but were unable to complete the process because the program’s submit function did not work. It brought them back to the beginning of the application instead.

Less than two hours after the application was opened, the Department of Economic and Community Development shut it down because of a technical issue. Applications will be open again on Friday at 9 a.m., a department spokeswoman said.

“This application utilizes a national system that many states utilize. Unfortunately that system is down and as a result our portal is also down. Our team is working to resolve this issue,” Communications Director Kate Foye said.

“Knowing this is a first-come, first-serve application, and in fairness to all, we have decided the portal will remain closed for the remainder of the day.”

Anyone who was able to submit an application before the system crashed should have received a confirmation email, Foye added. Applicants will have to restart the process when the system reopens Friday.

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