Roane State remembers Cumberland Business Incubator supporter with living tribute

A ceremony honoring Dr. Carl Mueller and his support of the Cumberland Business Incubator was held on July 12. Pictured left to right are Randy Graham with First National Bank of Tennessee; Holly Hanson, director of the RSCC Cumberland County campus and the CBI; Jenell Mueller; Roane State President Chris Whaley; and Teresa Duncan, RSCC vice president of workforce development.

CROSSVILLE – A holly tree is growing in front of Roane State’s Cumberland Business Incubator as a living tribute to the man credited with inspiring officials to create the CBI.

Officials in a recent dedication ceremony remembered the efforts of Dr. Carl Mueller, a Fairfield Glade resident who died in January. The tree was planted on Arbor Day in April.

“Dr. Mueller made the city and county mayors, state and regional officials and many others aware of what a business incubator could do to increase economic development in our area by helping small businesses get started and grow,” Holly Hanson said during the event. 

Hanson is director of the CBI, located next door to the community college’s Cumberland County campus. With the financial backing of federal, state and local governments, the CBI opened its doors in 2011. Roane State operates the facility.

“Dr. Mueller was among the first to envision a business incubator in Cumberland County and his passion and support helped create and sustain it,” Roane State President Chris Whaley said. “He was a man of great faith and wisdom, and I am grateful to count him as a mentor.”

The CBI conference room was earlier named for Mueller and a plaque there states, “In recognition of Dr. Carl Mueller, who saw the vision of the Cumberland Business Incubator and what it could be.” A marker to be placed at the base of the tree will bear the same words in an inscription carved in Crab Orchard stone, Hanson said.

Mueller served on the CBI’s steering committee and was a goodwill ambassador for the incubator. “Dr. Mueller must have shared with every business person he met the services available at the Cumberland Business Incubator,” Hanson said during the ceremony. “Many came for help to start their business or to grow their business and would say, ‘Dr. Mueller sent me.’”

Mueller was retired from his career as a chemical engineer for the U.S. Department of Defense. His widow, Jenell Mueller, attended the dedication ceremony.

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has locations in Roane, Campbell, Cumberland, Fentress, Knox, Loudon, Morgan and Scott counties as well as a branch campus in Oak Ridge. For more information, visit or call (865) 882-4554.

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