In a speech after his public inauguration, the first Republican to hold the highest office in the state in 20 years pledged to revitalize the state's economy and education system.
Thousands turned out in downtown Raleigh for the big event. In addition to McCrory, Supreme Court justices delivered the oaths of office Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and the members of the Council of State on the south side of the old Capitol building in downtown Raleigh.
Speaking to the crowd after taking the oath of office, McCrory said he will work hard to improve the economic picture in the state he now leads.
"We will put North Carolina on a better road to recovery. We will grasp our potential from every Main Street throughout North Carolina," McCrory said in his prepared remarks. "Working together, we can make North Carolina the place of unlimited opportunity - a place where anyone who studies hard, works hard and lives a life with high values, can fulfill and even exceed their potential."
McCrory, 56, said his parents moved to North Carolina in the mid-1960s because of its education and employment opportunities and quality of life. The state became a transportation and financial hub and built a leading university system, McCrory said.
"We've had great successes, but some wounds that had been camouflaged were uncovered and exposed, especially during this recession," he said. McCrory said he knows people are hurting now in communities across the state because the state's unemployment rate - at 9.1 percent - remains among the nation's highest.
"Today we are setting a new strategy and vision to unleash the strength of our industries and the entrepreneurial talent and energy of our citizens," the new governor added. "We will lead the way once again."
To do that, the governor said the state will rely on agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, finance, the military, travel and tourism, and more.
"Even travel and tourism, that once thrived in our state, has felt the pressure from competition as other states built up their brands. It is time to polish up our brand and once more say, 'Come check us out,'" said McCrory.
In keeping with campaign themes, McCrory said the state government he manages will be run as a team effort and focus on creating a culture of customer services. While the state is on improved financial footing compared to four years ago as Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue entered office, there won't be new revenues coming from government in the near future.
"Government cannot solve all these problems alone because there is no new money falling out of the sky," he told the crowd. "We should not ask for more money from you because the result is more pain to families and small businesses on Main Street. ... Instead, government is going to pay its bills, moving away from borrowed time and borrowed money."
A parade through downtown Raleigh followed McCrory's speech.
McCrory and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest took their official oaths in private ceremonies last weekend in order to be in office when the Legislature officially convened this week.
After the inaugural parade, McCrory and his wife also were to hold an open house at the Executive Mansion.
Associated Press reporter Gary D. Robertson contributed to this report.