Small businesses are feeling better about the economy and are looking to grow in 2011, according to a new survey released this week by online marketing firm Constant Contact.

Of the more than 1,400 small business owners that responded to the survey (view full results), 73 percent expected their companies to grow over the next 12 months and nearly 40 percent felt “positive” about the economy over the course of the next year.

“They see the darkness behind them and looking forward they see some light,” said Eric Groves, Constant Contact’s senior vice president of global market development. He added the survey is a “followup” to the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company’s larger spring polling of roughly 4,000 small businesses. Groves said Constant Contact has more than 400,000 clients, predominantly small to medium-sized businesses.

Another key finding was that small businesses remained disenchanted with the Obama administration’s efforts to help, with a combined 51 percent of respondents rating the federal government’s attitude toward small businesses as “very unsupportive” (28.7 percent) or “moderately unsupportive” (22.6 percent).

“They’re looking at this as something they’re going to have to figure out themselves,” said Groves on the challenge respondents face in growing their businesses in a slow economy.