As we head into the final few weeks of 2014, a new survey finds optimism about the economy is increasing among small business owners.

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The latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index finds small business owners are feeling more hopeful than at any time since before the start of the Great Recession in 2008.

"We are up to a positive 58 index score, which is fantastic," said Jane Navarria, Wells Fargo business banking area manager for New Jersey. "It was 49 in the July survey, and it's up 34 points from October 2013."

For 2015, "26 percent of small business owners report they plan to increase the number of jobs at their companies a little or a lot. That's up from 20 percent in July," Navarria said.

The survey also finds 71 percent of owners expect their overall financial situations to be very good or somewhat good in 2015, and 51 percent believe their company's revenues will increase.

"That really suggests that small business owners are becoming more confident with the steady improvements in the economy," Navarria said. "Small businesses feel that they are in a better financial position and they're seeing more opportunities."

Another finding in the survey was that 29 percent of the owners "expect to increase the amount of money they allocate for capital spending, compared to 25 percent last quarter."

The biggest challenge facing small business owners, according to Navarria, is generating more business.

"Fourteen percent said attracting new customers and new business was their top concern," she said.

The survey also found 56 percent of survey respondents think healthcare costs next year will cause either some or a great deal of financial hardship.