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Credit the high priority German cities place on urban mobility, especially trains, which are seen as instrumental to attracting and developing business in Europe's largest economy. Maria Krautzberger, permanent secretary of the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development, told Forbes that the ability for companies to connect to global business networks of suppliers and customers makes infrastructure an essential competitive advantage for cities.

Infrastructure improvement, particularly in high-speed rail, has also been a priority of the Obama administration, which allocated $8 billion of the $787 billion stimulus package to the cause of six possible high-speed corridors around the nation.

But the U.S. is a bit behind the curve. Germany, for example, has had high-speed rail since 1991. In Japan, the Shinkansen, the country's high-speed network, has been operational since 1964.

While the Obama administration has focused its support for such networks through the creation of jobs and easing of congestion, the long-term competitive advantage that cities gain as the result of such linkages has the potential to be its longest-term benefit. Of course, that's assuming the projects are completed and the U.S. doesn't bankrupt itself with deficit spending.

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