RALEIGH – Tony Copeland, who as secretary of commerce led North Carolina’s efforts to land a series of huge economic development projects from auto plants to Apple and Amazon, is stepping down.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Copeland’s departure on Friday.

“Four years ago, we assembled one of the strongest cabinets in the history of North Carolina. I appreciate Tony Copeland’s willingness to join my cabinet and use his excellent skills and experience to help our state grow jobs and boost important programs like job training,” said Cooper in the announcement .“The beginning of a new term is a natural time for transition, and my administration will remain laser focused on the economic priorities that lay ahead as we rebound from this pandemic.”

While North Carolina didn’t land either of the big “A” projects or a new Army headquarters or a long-sought-after auto plant, the state did convince big pharmaceutical firms such as Eli Lilly to build facilities in the Triangle and elsewhere. A host of other projects also came to the state in the wake of the contorverisal House Bill 2 legislation passed under the preceding Pat McCrory administration.

North Carolina also remains at the top of many “best of” lists for industrial recruiting and jobs.

“I am proud of the accomplishments we have made together, including support for the state’s businesses, workers and communities during this historic pandemic,” Copeland said.

“We’ve worked to bring stability to the economic development process and implemented innovative solutions to ensure North Carolina’s workforce is ready to embrace the emerging opportunities ahead.”

The governor’s office noted that the state under Copeland and Cooper attracted $17.4 billion in investment and promises of nearly 79,000 jobs.

Copeland is scheduled to serve through January 2021.