State Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker is stepping down after leading North Carolina’s business-recruitment and job growth efforts for the past 22 months, Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday.

McCrory named Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources John Skvarla to succeed Decker, who has been named president of Nuray Media, a digital media company started by the founders of Raycom Sports.

In an email, Decker described Nuray as “a media preservation and restoration startup.” She “will be partners with long time friends Rick and Dee Ray, who started the company two years ago.”

The news comes just a day after the Economic Development Partnership for N.C. named a new CEO. The public-private partnership was a cornerstone of Decker’s efforts during her Commerce tenure. Tech firms Red Hat and Lenovo are big supporters of the partnership. 

Decker said she and her husband initially agreed that she would work in McCrory’s administration for a year, and having put in almost twice that time, it was time for her to return to her home and family in western North Carolina.

“Sharon Decker has made a difference in this state,” McCrory said at a news conference.

Choking back tears, he said, “She has left a legacy of jobs for North Carolina, and she’s been the best salesman I’ve ever seen for this state.”

In an email sent to colleagues ahead of the news conference, Decker said she soon will undergo foot surgery but will remain in the Commerce job through the rest of December.

“Though I will remain Secretary through the end of this year, I will spend the majority of December at my home in Rutherfordton. I am sure many of you remember that I came into this job on a scooter immediately following a surgical procedure on my left foot. On December 11th I will have surgery on the right foot and be right back on that scooter. I will be attending regularly scheduled meetings via phone during the final two weeks of the month,” she wrote.

“We have accomplished so very much together during the past two years and I am sincerely grateful for all of your hard work in our many endeavors. I remain impressed by your dedication to bettering our programs and services and appreciate your patience through our many phases of change. This Department is fortunate to have a strong leadership team and I have every confidence that they will continue to work well together to achieve the Department’s goals.”

McCrory said he and Decker agreed that Skvarla would be the best option for the next commerce secretary, given his background as an entrepreneur and business executive and the work he has done as DENR chief to help recruit companies to the state.

“He understands start-ups. He understands manufacturing,” the governor said. “He is a fantastic representative for the state of North Carolina.”

No successor has been named at DENR, but McCrory said he hopes to have a new secretary named by the end of the month.