North Carolina State Government - Cabinet Departments (2019)

North Carolina Department of Commerce

Mission Statement: The Department of Commerce works with local, regional, national, and international organizations to fulfill its mission to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for all North Carolinians.

Anthony M. Copeland
Year Established: 1977 
Phone Number: (919) 814-4600
Current Website:
Click Here
Number of Employees: Researching Number of Facilities: HQ

301 North Wilmington Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

The Department of Commerce Includes:

The NC Department of Commerce is the state's lead agency for economic, community and workforce development. The Department works with local, regional, national, and international organizations to fulfill its mission to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for all North Carolinians.

Taking a comprehensive approach to economic development, the Department’s work reaches many areas. The Department helps people find jobs and employers find and retain a qualified workforce. The Department administers the state’s employment security system, supporting workers during career transitions. The Department provides local communities with grants and planning services to spur infrastructure development and economic growth, and administers the state’s economic incentive programs.

The Department is also responsible for recruiting companies to the state, helping existing North Carolina companies expand, encouraging business start-ups, enabling companies to export, and marketing North Carolina as a business and visitor destination. In October of 2014, the Department entered a contract with a new public-private organization, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) to take the lead in these recruiting and marketing functions.

The Department also publishes data, statistics, information and reports for citizens and policymakers interested in the state’s economy.

Divisions for the Department of Commerce include:

- Business Development
- Employment Security
- Film
- International Trade
- Labor and Economic Analysis
- Rural Development
- Science, Technology, & Innovation
- Tourism
- Workforce Solutions

Commissions and Boards within the Department of Commerce include:

- Banking Commission
- Community Development Council
- Credit Union Division
- Industrial Commission
- Public Staff of the Utilities Commission
- Rural Electrification Authority
- Seafood Industrial Park Authority
- Travel & Tourism Board
- Utilities Commission

The North Carolina Department of Commerce has offices in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea.

NC Statute Authority for the Department of Commerce

The Department of Administration is authorized by General Statute 143B, Article 10, Paragraph 143B-427:

"There is hereby recreated and reconstituted a Department to be known as the Department of Commerce, with the organization, powers, and duties defined in Article 1 of this Chapter, except as modified in this Article."

Click Here to view the entire Statute, which describes in greater detail all of the functions of the Department of Commerce.

History of the Department of Commerce:

The Department of Commerce was established as part of the State Government Reorganization Act of 1971. At that time, the Department almost entirely consisted of regulatory agencies. In 1977, the economic development divisions & state ports programs were merged into the Department of Commerce.

The Department of Commerce is unique to State Government in that the regulatory authority of the individual agencies is exercised independently. Thus, each agency holds hearings and engages in rulemaking for the industry it regulates without interference from the Department. The Department exists to coordinate management functions and perform administraitve services for all the agencies. The administrative staff through the Secretary's office provides fiscal planning, cost control, personal policy administration, pruchasing, systems development, liaison, and other support devices.

The centralization of management functions enhances the effectiveness of agency regulatory responsibilities by eliminating administrative requirements at the agency level. Centralization also permits greater efficiency and expertise in administrative services since the Department staff specializes in management functions. With the addition of the previously named new agencies, the Department will become one of the most important in State government. The attracting of new Industry and the "tourist dollar" to North Carolina takes on greater importance with each year. Moreover, as we continue to feel the effect of the energy crunch on our individual lives, it will become increasingly more important that every posible measure to conserve and wisely develop new as well as old energy sources be taken.

The regulatory authority of the agencies associated in the Department affects the entire range of industry in the State. Therefore, the rule making and judicial determinations of these agencies have far-reaching impact on the state's economic growth and on the well-being of its citizens.

Past Secretaries of the Deparment of Commerce



Anthony M. Copeland

2017 to Present

John E. Skvarla, III




J. Keith Crisco

2009 -

James T. Fain, III

2001 - 2009

Rick Carlisle

1998 - 2001

E. Norris Tolson

1997 - 1998

S. Davis Phillips

1993 - 1997

Estell C. Lee

1990 - 1993

James T. Broyhill

1989 - 1990

Claude E. Pope

1987 - 1989

Howard Haworth

1985 - 1987

Duncan M. Faircloth

1977 - 1985

Donald R. Beason

1976 - 1977

Winfield S. Harvey

1973 - 1976

Tenney I. Deane, Jr.

1973 - 1974

George Irving Aldridge

1972 - 1973

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