Among the planned spending, most of it already in the works: a restaurant renovation; the purchase of a new building for a retail outlet, a delivery van; and, for several of the respondents, new manufacturing equipment that will each company between $100,000 to $250,000.
The Wells Fargo/Gallup survey brings more positive news: The 28 percent who say they will spend is the highest percentage the Index has recorded since January 2008.
One reason business owners may be considering spending: They believe it will be easier to get a loan in 2012. According to the Wells Fargo/Gallup index, 25 percent say credit was somewhat or very easy to get over the past 12 months, the highest percentage since April 2009. Looking ahead, 27 percent say it will be somewhat or very easy to get credit over the next 12 months; again, the highest since April 2009, and up from 22 percent in October 2011.
While a hefty 38 percent expect it will remain difficult to obtain credit, that number is down from 43 percent in October.
The report notes that despite the positive trends, economic realities still hover over most business owners' spreadsheets. Rising gas prices and fragile consumer confidence levels could drag down the economy, it notes.
And if consumers aren't spending, neither is the most optimistic business owner.