Dan Forest, the Republic candidate for lieutenant governor, left, toured the Thorlo Finishing Plant in Rockwell as part of his 70-county economic devolopment tour. Kevin Gooden of Thorlo leads the tour that includes Carl Ford, vice chair of the county commissioners, and Greg Edds, chairman of the local Republic party. Photo by Shavonne Potts
Dan Forest, the Republic candidate for lieutenant governor, center, toured the Thorlo Finishing Plant in Rockwell as part of his 70-county economic devolopment tour. Kevin Gooden of Thorlo, left, leads the tour as Brenda Canaday tags socks. Photo by Shavonne Potts
Dan Forest, the Republic candidate for lieutenant governor toured the Thorlo Finishing Plant in Rockwell as part of his 70-county economic devolopment tour. He talks with employee Debbie Misenheimer. Photo by Shavonne Potts, Salisbury Post
Dan Forest, the Republic candidate for lieutenant governor, far right, toured the Thorlo Finishing Plant in Rockwell as part of his 70-county economic devolopment tour. Photo by Shavonne Potts, Salisbury Post
ROCKWELL - Brenda Canaday is one of more than a dozen employees at Thor-Lo Finishing Plant who got to shake hands with a man who hopes to be the future lieutenant governor.
Dan Forest, who is running against Democrat Linda Coleman for the seat being vacated by Walter Dalton, was at the Rockwell sock manufacturing plant this week.
Forest was visiting as part of his 70-plus county "economic development listening tour."
The tour is an opportunity for the Raleigh architect to hear from economic developers, business leaders and owners about North Carolina's needs.
"I thought it was wonderful. We enjoyed it," Canaday said.
It's not often the company has a politician visit them. In fact, it's never happened, she said.
Canaday, who, was working Wednesday the day of the tour, said the employees really loved the experience.
This isn't Forest's first visit to Rowan County. In June during his most recent visit, Forest along with campaign staffers and volunteers, went door-to-door aboard his "Bubba" bus to garner support from local constituents.
In April, Forest also stopped in Salisbury as part of his 30-day state tour.
Current Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton is running for governor, leaving his seat open.
Forest is the son of U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, who will retire this year from Congress.
Forest, along with campaign staff and volunteers toured the plant where they were able to see the operation start-to-finish.
Greg Edds, chairman of the Rowan Republican Party, was also in attendance, as was Carl Ford, vice chairman of the Rowan County Commissioners.
"We're in counties all over the state meeting with small business owners to see what makes the economy go," Forest said.
Forest said he wants to meet as many people as he can. He has traveled to all 100 counties in North Carolina throughout his three tour stops.
Several months ago Forest met Thorlo owner, Jim Throneburg, through friend, Jimmy Isley, who is with the company's IT Department. It was part of his mission to reach out to small businesses.
"We want to know what we need to do to facilitate job growth. We need to get people back to work," he said.
Forest said he enjoyed the tour, saying he loves the whole process of putting things together.
"It's obvious these folks make it a top priority," he said.
While on the tour, Forest met Debbie Allen, who after being diagnosed with and treated for cancer, returned to work in September. She had been away from work since June 2011.
He celebrated Allen's resolve to return to work, chatting with her for a few minutes before she returned from her break.
"If Dan Forest doesn't win this race then hard work can't win a race," said Greg Edds, chairman of the Republican Party.
Kevin Gooden, a distribution resource and manager with the company said "we were pleased to have him tour the facility. It was an honor."
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.